Thinning slowly

This past weekend I renewed my gym membership for an excellent reason — I’m the lightest I’ve been in probably at least a decade.

History of my weight, modern era —

1992-3 – I swam five days a week, training to earn American Red Cross certifications — first for Lifeguard, then Water Safety Instructor, finally Lifeguard Trainer. Swimming is arguably one of the greatest aerobic exercises. After a couple of months I weighed about 155lbs.

1996 – I spent a semester in Florida on the Walt Disney World College Program and receive a very physical work assignment — Goodyear Tomorrowland Grand Prix Raceway (it’s the “Tomorrowland Indy Speedway” now). I drank gallons of Cherry Coke, but otherwise ate pretty healthy. Favored boneless skinless chicken breast and hot dogs. I also liked Oreos and Soft Batch, but I usually ate only a few a day — more to save money than anything else. The unintentional portion control and hours a day spent running around the track (often followed by a walk around Epcot after work) caused me to drop to a 34 waist, though I wasn’t keeping close track of my weight.

1998 – I started in the NOC at ANS Communications. The NOC was a lot of fun, fueled by a lot of bad food — though catered meetings often left food, vegetables, and deli meat in the break room, there was a soda fountain in there too, and a culture that encouraged eating at your desk — come on, two giant screen displays and an enterprise-class Unix workstation on a major backbone of the Internet? Some nights I’d just clock out and stay there surfing for a couple of hours. This is when I first bought my trucker mugs so I wouldn’t have to go back to the break room as often to fill up. And there weren’t a lot of healthy options on the south side of town — I became friendly with the folks at KFC in particular, picking up lunch orders for ten of us or more every day, or getting in on a group order from Pizza House. I ate and sat, and sat and ate, hoped for a fitness center in the building expansion circa 2000 (it turned out to be a data center), and somehow won Abbey’s heart along the way. I could make a pretty good stir-fry, but rarely, and not much else. My favorite thing to make was two boxes of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese with a pound of ground beef dumped in it.

2002 – At the time of our wedding, I weighed in the low 230s. I started to cook at home again a little bit, but still relied primarily on takeout most of the day, most days. From 2003 on, I spent most days entirely on the road between clients — which meant I ate lunch anywhere and everywhere, and got myself giant size sodas whenever I was thirsty. We joined our first gym – that and the occasionally physical nature of computer delivery kept me stable.

2007 – I jumped to U of M, and this is where I started to lose weight again. Every year in the dead of winter, Active U begins, where teams of faculty and staff track their weekly minutes spent in fitness activity, for bragging rights. They got me hooked by offering a bonus for successful completion of the program – now I sign up voluntarily to be part of a team activity. It keeps me motivated — I don’t want to let the team down.

2012 — I seemed to be plateaued in the low 220s to high 210s. Those skinny people you see running on the side of the road? They’re running, not putting their feet in little ski thingies and figure-eightng. So I quit doing the elliptical and started doing the treadmill at 3MPH, level 1, weight loss program. It was boring, so I switched to the hill program. When it started to feel too easy, I increased the resistance. I’ve slowly been raising the speed too. Now I start out around 3.7MPH and level 13, typically increasing the speed to 4MPH with a burst at the end for like 30 seconds.

This past weekend I weighed in at 209.4lbs — I’m still technically obese, so I’m not doing cartwheels yet, but 200 is in sight, and so many of the shirts and trousers I’ve bought in recent years are almost too baggy to wear. I’ve begun to set aside the ones I just can’t stand to wear anymore for donation.

Also, I recently started swiping small dumbbells from the other side of the gym and carrying them for a minute here and there while on the treadmill — usually during the less-steep portions of the hill program, I’ll grab them and pump for a minute while I’m walking. We’ll see what happens. It’s the same “here goes nothing” attitude that has served me well in computer troubleshooting.

I am actually considering scheduling the Free Introductory Appointment with A Trainer that the gym offers – I’m pretty sure it’s just a come-on for regular appointments, but once every six weeks or so might be doable. I mainly set out on this path to increase the quality and longevity of life, not for vanity, but if I keep this up, I might look as good at 40 as I did at 20. I certainly can’t look any worse than I did at 30.

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