Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Love My Shoelaces

Okay, okay, I really don't have any sort of weird fondness for the inanimate string-like objects that hold my shoes securely on my feet.  The title of this post is only slightly tongue-in-cheek, though, as it is quite refreshing to renew my relationship with said inanimate objects in addition to the animated appendages they serve.

There was a time, see, when I was in quite good shape.  I ran a marathon, a triathlon, and an iron man event, all while studying physics and electrical engineering.  I graduated from West Point, in fact, at 180 solid, muscular pounds, and though I certainly wasn't the greatest athlete to complete a course of study at the military academy -- not even really close, honestly -- I was still in good physical condition.

Fast forward to today, over twenty years later, and quite nearly a hundred pounds heavier.  There's several reasons I've let my physical condition go, but they're all pretty much just excuses at this point.

Oh, and I used to be flexible.  So flexible was I, in fact, that I had to stop doing quad stretches before I ran, because I'd always over-stretch and the subsequent run would hurt my knees.  Now?  Not so much.  When I started the workout regimen I've been on for the past week, I was surprised to find that I couldn't even do a quad stretch.  No, seriously -- I couldn't bring my left leg up high enough to grab the top of that shoe.

My overall shape -- round, it is -- has gotten to the point where "Oh, you graduated from West Point?" always sounds like more of a shocked exclamation than an expression of approbation.

As if that wasn't bad enough, just tying my shoes was an exercise in embarrassing exertion.  I mean, it was hard enough to do it before my ill-fated trip to Bermuda, but after breaking my collarbone and three ribs on my left side, that achievement was darn near an impossibility.  I went with slip-on shoes for months after, and only recently went back to tied-on shoes despite the effort involved.

Tying my right shoe wasn't too bad; I'd find a nice high perch and throw my foot up onto it, reaching down and deftly working the laces into a knot.  The left, though, was the problem.  I used the same perch, but in order to get that one tied I had to roll myself up into a tight ball, holding my breath tightly while I rapidly did up a bow knot with my quivering, bluing fingertips.  Once the shoe was tied, I sprang back up into a straight position with an explosive breath in.

It was downright embarrassing, really.

I'd had enough of it this last summer, but after buying a workout regime I got caught up in moving, changing jobs, and all that stress, and the disks lay on the mantle for months, gathering dust.  Besides, when I tried the first couple of exercise routines, my left shoulder still crackled and popped when I used it.  While it's fine for breakfast cereal to do that, it's alarming when it's your formerly broken shoulder.

Then, in early December, I weighed myself.  Two hundred eighty pounds, with zero clothes on.  Enough was enough, I decided.  After talking it over with the family I set out on a diet and exercise routine.

I started last weekend.  Oh, my, it hurt!  The pops and crackles were gone, finally, but the glutes and shoulders and calves hurt so bad for a while that I had a hard time climbing the stairs to the parking garage at work.  Even walking down the hallway brought enough pain that I grimaced with each step.

You know the good thing about workout muscle pain?  It's going to go away, one way or another. Either you work out through it, as I have, or you stop working out, and either path leads to less pain.  Besides, the burn of a solid workout is a good pain.  I used to enjoy it.

Turns out, I still do.

This weekend?  I've only lost a few pounds.  Now, that's pretty good for the start of a workout routine--those who know best have always told me that it's unsafe to lose more than a couple or a few pounds in a week. 

The best part, though?  I can tie both shoes without needing SCUBA equipment.  I can also do quad stretches once again, though still not nearly as quickly as I used to hop into them.

So yeah, I'm happy I started.  My Facebook friends know which workout regimen I'm talking about, because I've been mock-complaining about how insane this Insanity workout is.  Fact of the matter, though, is that it's perfect for me.  It's the younger cousin of P90X, which is a successful strength-building process, but Insanity is focused on cardio and sweating more than muscle building, and that's precisely what my fat tuckass needs.

So -- wish me luck.  That, and years of happiness in my newly renewed relationship with my feet in all their surroundings.


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