Saturday, February 23, 2008

Measuring Progress

Straps I, originally uploaded by Jaquandor.

I've made few bones here about the fact that I'm generally overweight, and have been for years. I'm not so overweight as to be unhealthy, but I am at an age where that does start to be a concern, so in recent months I've started to slowly move myself into a healthier kind of living. This starts with eating more fruits and vegetables, obviously, and it also involves more exercise on a regular basis. At first, exercising more meant going for brisk walks on a regular basis (four or five times a week).

Of course, the onrush of cold weather ruled out daily walking once the snow started flying, which is why my regular exercise plan fell by the wayside for a short while -- until the first week of January, when we were able to activate our membership at the local Y (given to us by my parents, in one of the greatest Christmas presents they've ever given us).

So now we go to the Y three or four times a week, and I'm doing a combination of weight training and cardio work. I've been doing this for about six weeks now, and I'm feeling great: stronger, calmer, and less likely to take out my frustrations on my own fictional characters or on helpless pieces of scrap wood. I haven't been so unfit as to be out of breath on a normal basis, but I'm noticing that it takes more work already to get my heart really racing. I'm also drinking gigantic amounts of water as many health professionals say to do. (Personally, I think that drinking lots of water is beneficial mainly because it forces you to walk more. As in, to the bathroom.)

So what's with the picture? Well, I have no real way to quantify any weight loss I enjoy as I embark on my new "Sculpting A Better Me" focus. We don't own a scale, and frankly, I don't want one. Scales can be discouraging when you hit a plateau, their constant presence can lead to obsessive weight-checking, and on a sheer practical note, our bathroom is roughly the size of that video phone booth Heywood Floyd uses to call his daughter from the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey, so there really isn't room for a scale in the first place.

So how to know if I'm definitely losing weight? By the more-satisfying measure of how my clothes fit. Watching a number on a scale decrease over time is nice, but really, finding the shirts one wears getting bigger and finding other shirts that may have been uncomfortably tight a year ago now perfectly wearable is much nicer. Orders of magnitude nicer, actually. So is the fact that a week ago I had to buy a new (smaller) belt, because the old one simply had too much extra belt hanging off the end after I buckled it. And -- ideally for me -- is the fact that I'm having to shorten the straps on my overalls for the first time in several years. Huzzah!

So I'll occasionally post another variant of this photo as I make progress reports, for comparison's sake. I'll have to use this one pair of overalls for this series exclusively, since I long ago discovered that the length of shoulder straps can vary between even virtually identical pairs of overalls from the exact same manufacturer. Here we go!

(By the way, I don't know about other Y branches in Erie County, but the Southtowns branch is just a stunning facility. I just love the place, and the very best thing is that it's all of 1.5 miles from Casa Jaquandor. Come spring and summer, I'll be able to walk there and back again for my workouts. Life is good.)

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