WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.
Since I'm basically a big ol' geek, I'm going to start with a graph:
The graph represents how much walking I'm doing from day to day, in number of steps. This goes back 160 days. I do this because it helps me get a sense of what I'm capable of today vs. what I could do a year ago.
It shows you certain numbers, but those aren't the specific numbers I'm so interested in today.
We can talk about weight, and I'm not saying it's irrelevant, because it's not, but it's not as relevant as certain other things. In those 160 days, I've lost about 18 lbs. That's decent, moderate progress, and I'm happy with it. But, as a diabetic, there are other numbers that are more important to me.
Fasting blood sugar levels in humans should be in the 80-120 range. There's also a test (HGA1c) that we do from time to time, that measures glucose attached to red blood cells, which gives a sense of sugar control over an extended period. Ideally it should be below 7. I've struggled with both these numbers. Fasting glucose anywhere from 135-150. HGA1c ranging from high 7's to low 8's. Not horrendous, but not particularly good either.
When I first started doing this walking, I found making it much above 10,000 steps in a single day to be a major victory. I remember doing canvassing during the presidential primaries and being completely exhausted after doing 15,000 steps in a single day.
Today, I see 15,000 steps as failure. That's my minimum goal for a day. My preference is over 20,000. Since the end of January, I've ended up with under 20,000 steps only 4 times. Now that I've been doing this for awhile, I actually crave the work. Since I started doing this, I've even managed to make it over 30,000 steps on 25 different occasions. On seven of those occasions, I made it over 40,000 steps. Once, I made it up to nearly 46,000. By my stride, that's about 16 miles. I had no idea I was even remotely capable of doing this a year ago.
The total amount I've walked over these 160 days is 1,362 miles. That comes out to just over eight and a half miles a day and three and a quarter million steps.
And I need to explain this, because it's important: I am in pain. I don't mean this in terms of right this moment. I mean this in terms of the simple fact that not a moment of my life goes by without some experience of physical pain. I've had multiple injuries that did not get treated properly throughout my life and my body is a bit screwed up because of it.
So yes. I am in pain. The only thing to do about it in the short term is drugs. I am not choosing that path. I can take the pain. I can survive it. I can mitigate it by thinking about how I move and why. I can distract myself from it by doing things I enjoy.
So I just work through it, and let it go, and just say "screw it."
Once I decided that this was no excuse for not doing what I needed to do to be better my life started getting a whole lot more interesting. It's not an easy life, necessarily, but it's one of real pleasure and comprehension, not one of silent agony and self-inflicted ignorance.
So here I am, step by step, one foot after the other, doing the things I need to do to become healthy and not letting the voice that says "you can't possibly accomplish this. Who the hell do you think you are?" tell me otherwise.
So... food. Food is still a struggle for me. Eating good and healthy things is not the problem. Stopping myself from eating too much is the problem. Peanut butter's also the problem. I just love it. But I cope. And cut down. And sometimes go without it for a week at a time.
Something new happened to me recently and it was such an odd experience for me that I need to talk about it. It's such a simple normal thing, but I had taught myself to ignore it for so long that it was very strange for me to experience feeling full.
And I mean that in that level of simplicity. I felt full. And then I stopped eating. For most of my life, I just wanted the food. I would eat it and if I felt full, I just wouldn't really notice, so I'd eat more. I mean, the food was there, just waiting for me.
It's amazing how much of a revelation something that simple can be.
Back to those diabetes numbers:
Before I started doing this, my HGA1c test was 8.1. Six months later, it had gone down to 7.6. I just had it tested again a month after that.
It's 7.2. Mind you, that's after reducing one of my diabetes meds. (almost every medication I take has weight gain as a potential side effect. I figured as my blood sugar got under better control, I could afford to experiment with minor reductions in one medication).
This isn't just awesome. This is phenomenal.
How come no one ever told me healthy eating and exercise could be good for me? Where have they been hiding this secret?
As I usually do, I'm going to end this diary with music and photos, because these are part of my driving source. This is a piece I improvised a few weeks back:
And these are from about 4-5 months ago:
And these are from a jam session I did the other night:
And these are some of my favorite photos from my own collection:
This is probably one of the best photos I've ever taken:
It took a bit over an hour: 20 minutes each way to get to the orchard, about 10 minutes to set up and then just under 42 minutes to do the shot itself. Clicking on the image will get you the link with exposure details, film settings, etc., but clicking here will get you a version that's a bit larger.
is a 7 minute, 22 second exposure. I used Christmas lights attached to a pole, turning them on and off to create a tunnel pattern. I used to think 7 minutes was a really long exposure. Not so much now :)
Night sky w/wood factory and traffic:
Backyard Northern Cardinal:
So... what are the ways in which your work to become healthier have been awesome for you? Where are you struggling? What do you need to achieve your goals? Friday night's WHEE conversation is now open for business.