Sunday, April 29, 2012

Building a Better Me

It is funny how losing something teaches you to build something stronger in its absence.

Fortunately this time what was lost was just excess weight. Before I joined the better body challenge in January I noticed that while I had not necessarily put on extra pounds at that time, I was not carrying my weight well. As I get older so goes elasticity. That is just how your body works if you do not have a regular exercise routine.
Me in December 2011
A bit of context: In January I clocked in at about 204lbs. Compared with that period when I weighed 225lbs about six years ago, it did not seem so bad. However I was still overweight at 204lbs. when put in the context of various health metrics. And when I looked in the mirror I did see parts, especially around my neck, that were too loose for my taste.

The better body competition gave me a framework to rebuild myself. Coming out of it as the winner among the guys was a fun surprise. It was hard to get started having never before committed to a serious exercise and diet routine. Early frustration melted away as I found my rhythm. There was no one simple answer for me. I counted calories, watched my intake of fats, sugars, sodium, and cholesterol. Reducing the size of my food portions definitely played a significant role.

At the midpoint of the competition I clocked in at 190lbs. I had set 195lbs as my goal weight for the entire competition so I was kind of lost about what to do next. Winning was not as important as figuring out where I wanted to be in terms of fitness.
Me in April 2012
I made my new goal 185lbs. since that would put me more firmly in healthy weight-territory. I scaled back my exercise routine for a couple of weeks then kicked it back into gear for the home stretch of the competition. The morning of the final weigh-in I clocked in at 180lbs. at home but my official final weight for the competition was about 181lbs. (after getting dressed to be out in public).

I had to laugh when I realized I needed to buy myself a smaller belt. Switching from burning weight to maintaining where I am is an adjustment. This morning I weighed 183lbs. and I am cool with that. Trying to put on some lean muscle in place of the unhealthy pounds. Not really interested in getting big, just living well. And let's be realistic, I don't have the time to build bulging biceps like Khal Drogo. I am very glad I "lost that neck."

I do enjoy the occasional indulgence in comfort food but nowadays I make sure to couple that with extra effort when exercising and balancing the rest of my diet.
Looking back it makes me feel a little guilty about all the times I made double peanut butter brownies and doled them out like some kind of street hustler trying to hook other people on sugar.

This doesn't mean I have hung up my apron. There will be brownies, cookies, cupcakes, and the occasional crème brulee in ALL their delicious glory. When it comes to making such desserts I still believe in using all those bad ingredients you should avoid because to me that is the point in letting yourself indulge. However you won't see me making these items that frequently.

Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away