Battle of the Bulge

Like many of you, I need to lose weight.  In fact, I need to lose a lot of it.  For years my body has carried a dozens of pounds more than my ideal weight (granted, the experts who calculate a person’s ideal weight seem to think it’s good to be very thin—perhaps too thin).  I’ve been too heavy since I was a child.  My weight has fluctuated over time depending on how much activity I do, and every five years or so I swing from lighter to heavier and back again.  I’m on my way down again and am about 15 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year.

I started working out aggressively in December because I’m tired of being fat.  It’s been a battle.  So far this month I’ve run or walked 30 kilometers, swam 600 meters, done some light weight lifting and sit-ups, cut back on eating bad foods, and faithfully taken vitamins and supplements.  How much weight have I lost this month for all this work?  Just 1.2 pounds.  I have to admit that it’s disheartening to work so hard for what seems to be so little to show for my efforts.  I take some comfort knowing that I’ve traded some fat for muscle, but I still have many pounds to shed.  It’s cold comfort.  I need to work harder to lose the pounds regardless of how much muscle I acquire.  Fortunately, the belly that’s analogous to wearing a 20 pound sack of flour on the torso has been shrinking lately, making it easier to tackle the deep, entrenched fat.  The “big guy” cackles I’ve heard for years are fewer and farther between than they used to be, so I know I’m heading in the right direction.

I won’t stop until I reach my ideal weight.  History is driving me to reach that hard-to-reach milestone.  Both my father and paternal grandfather died of heart attacks by age 61.  That’s far too young.  Although their unhealthy lifestyles undoubtedly contributed to their early demise, I know that I too am susceptible to the same fate if I don’t do something now to improve my health.  I want to do it before I develop any health conditions such as diabetes that would force me to change my lifestyle.  I would rather do it voluntary and if possible, avoid the same fate as my ancestors.

Training for a Triathlon

I signed up for the American School of Lusaka’s triathlon taking place on April 10.  It’s not a full triathlon, mind you.  I signed up for the intermediate option with six kilometers of cycling, a two-kilometer run, and a 200-meter swim.  I’m fit enough to complete the bicycle ride, but I still have some work to do to finish the run and swim.  I should be able to do the run after a month of preparation.  I decided that I will power walk if my legs or lungs fail me.  I power walk at about 70 percent as fast as I run.

I’m unsure, however, whether I’ll be able to finish the swim.  I measured our neighborhood swimming pool and calculated that I will need to do 16 laps in the pool to swim 200 meters.  I gave it a try this morning – it was freezing! – and swam just six laps before I quit exhausted.  Swimming uses a different set of muscles I haven’t exercised for quite some time.  Fortunately, I still have a month to prepare for this triathlon – time enough to build up my endurance.  I decided that each time I finish my power walk/run I’ll end it with a swim.  I wish I had time to do each event separately, but I don’t have enough time and figure I’ll need to practice doing all three at once before actually doing it.  Very likely my neighbors will do double-takes when they see some oddball using the pool in the dark.

My wife inspired me to try a triathlon.  She didn’t suggest it.  She led by example when she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, a 19,000 peak in Tanzania, during the holidays earlier this year.  This pales in comparison to climbing a peak like Kili, and Jing accomplished it with even less training than I have had for this event.  I too would like to tackle Kili later this year, but I first need to push myself and do activities I’ve never done before to gear up for Kili – like doing triathlons and running road races.  I’ll decide at mid-year whether I’m ready to summit Kili and train accordingly.

Will I finish this mini-triathlon?  I’m not sure, but as the Little Red Caboose once said, “I think I can.”  If I do, I won’t be one of the first to cross the finish line.  I may not be able to finish the run or swim without stopping or walking.  But, I’ll give it my best shot.  The only one I’m racing against is myself.  Everyone else can pass me by.  As long as I cross the finish line, that will be enough of a victory for me.

Happy New Year 2010

I wish you a happy and prosperous 2010.  I hope 2009 treated you well and that the new year will be even better.  What do you have planned for the new year?

I’m one of those people who believe in making and achieving goals, and I consider New Year’s resolutions worthwhile.  Resolutions help one think about what needs to change and how to change it.  Unfortunately, it’s very easy to break resolutions because they usually focus on aspects of our lives that we continually struggle to improve.  Hence, “resolve” is a key aspect of resolutions, and one must have the resolve to achieve the resolutions they make.

I’m as guilty as anyone in making and breaking my resolutions for the new year, so I have made three personal commitments this year that I hope will help me achieve my resolutions for 2010.  One, I chose goals that I am already pursuing and have already made some progress in achieving.  Two, I chose incremental targets for my goals rather than “pie-in-the-sky” aims that I know I will never achieve.  Third, I pledged to prioritize these goals, focus more on achieving them, and balance them with other responsibilities so they’re not superseded by life’s daily demands.  With these three commitments I hope to accomplish these resolutions by year’s end.

Here are my personal goals for 2010:

  1. Make a major life change
  2. Lose weight (10 percent)
  3. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
  4. Run (not walk) a 10-kilometer race
  5. Read half the Bible
  6. Stop one bad habit
  7. Write or update 25 short stories
  8. Go golfing three times
  9. Read ten books
  10. Increase our net worth by ten percent

If you haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions, I encourage you to try making some and make the commitment to follow through with them.  If you achieve even one, you increase your chances that you’ll end this year happier than you started it.