Friday, June 3, 2011

Beware: Lots of Words Ahead

It's been a rough few months for a variety of reasons. I won't go into those reasons here because, well, that's not the point of this post.

Suffice it to say, things that usually go my way haven't for a few months. And that's OK. I'm the first to admit throughout my life, I've had exceptionally good luck. Some of that is because I work hard to put myself in position to take advantage of those opportunities, but some of it is just that I've had good luck in my life.

I understand it can't always go my way, and that's fine. What hasn't gone my way lately isn't as important as the effect it had on me for too long.

For a period of about four months starting in late January through mid-April, I got a little emo and depressed. If you know me at all, you know I'm generally a happy-go-lucky, stress-free guy who is -- probably -- painfully positive about almost everything (except N.C. State sports, but let's be honest, that's warranted). Well for the better part of the winter and early spring, I was decidedly the opposite of that.

So why write this? Because I don't know how else to deal with things, and these are things that need some serious exorcising.

What happened? I shut down. Hardly left my apartment. Became a little too anti-social for my liking. I became entirely too sedentary and gained way too much weight. At the middle of April, I recorded my highest weight ever -- a disgustingly embarrassing 227 pounds.

These things were exacerbated by a few others.

The Internet is a blessing and a curse. Because of the Internet, I had all my closest friends at my fingertips all day, every day (That's what she said?). I could talk to them whenever I wanted to, which is awesome. At the same time, it also never made me feel like I was alone. I've lived in the DC area for two years now, but I hadn't put down any roots. There wasn't anyone I could pop out for drinks with or anything like that.

In a nutshell, some change was long overdue. I was treading on dangerously thin ice, not far from falling into a far-too-unhealthy lifestyle not suitable for long-term happiness.

Ugh...end of the unhappy portion of this post already. I am not unhappy. I have snapped out of the rut I was in for too long.

First, and perhaps the thing that excites me entirely too much, I've joined a softball team! And not just any softball team. I play for the N.C. State alumni softball team in the Capital Alumni Network. If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook (as you should!) you've seen pictures I've posted of our playing fields. Which are on the National Mall. Never gets old. It just doesn't. Standing on home plate, and, oh yeah, there's the Washington Monument in the outfield.

It's an enormous league. There are 72 college teams from all across the country with alumni filling out the rosters. I get to wear State shirts and hats, and we have a dorky "GO PACK!" cheer before and after games. It, LITERALLY, makes it a million times cooler than any other softball team would be.

It is SO great. My teammates are incredibly fun people. We have a ridiculous amount of fun at the game, and then at the bar after the game. It is so comforting to be surrounded by MY shade of red for the first time in too long. No offense to anyone, but you know. I'm N.C. State. I don't play well with others.

And yes, being the huge baseball nerd I am, I am keeping track of all my statistics in a spreadsheet. Of course I am. So far, through three games, I am hitting .833 on 5-for-6 hitting, with one walk and one sac fly. I've got three singles, a double, a triple, two runs scored and four RBI. I've got a .750 on-base percentage and a 1.333 slugging percentage for a robust 2.083 OPS.

Man, LET'S. GO. And what's up this weekend? A MARATHON TOURNEY! We're playing three games on Saturday in a Big Four Round-Robin. Yes, we'll play UNC, Duke and Wake Forest tomorrow, with a break for some grilling and drinking. Now THAT'S how you spend a late-spring afternoon.

So yes! There's that. What else? Oh yes, I've lost 15 pounds since mid-April. Again, I repeat, LET'S GO. I weighed in at 212 this morning. My goal weight is 180, which I haven't seen in about five years. Fail.

What have I done? Well, I've had to back off on the running thing. My hamstring is acting up again. I pulled it pretty bad last year while training for a half-marathon, and I still feel a twinge in it when I try to run. And since I'd rather save my running for the softball field, I'm holding off on recreational running for now. Instead, I walk Allie four miles every day.

I've also started actually physically going to the gym again. For too, too long, I relied on the excuse of having a set of 25-pound dumbbells as justification for not going to the gym. C'mon man.

So back to the gym several times a week, with real weights and machines and equipment. Let's actually do some work to see some results. And I have seen some small results so far, but this is still the very beginning of a long process. While at the gym, I'm working in the bike and elliptical to see if those can take the place of running and ease the tension on my hamstring. So far, so good on that front.

But really, the most important thing is diet. If you're not eating right, it doesn't matter what you're doing as far as exercise goes. I'm using a website called On the site, you plug in your current weight, goal weight and time frame. It then tells you how many calories (and other things) you should consume and how many calories-per-week need to be burned to reach the goal in that time frame. It's free to join, and it has a huge database of foods with the ability to manually enter your own items as well. Super helpful.

I've also been reading up on intermittent fasting. It's basically what I do anyway. You fast for 16 hours, consuming absolutely no calories in that time frame. You do all your eating in the remaining eight hours. In other words, what I do is I don't eat until sometime between noon and 2 p.m. And I absolutely do not eat after 8 to 10 p.m. The key is foods low in fat and high in protein. And portion control.

My biggest tip: ask for a to-go box with your meal at restaurants and immediately put half the food on the plate in the box for another meal.

So there you go. See? This started out kinda sad, but it turns out to be good!

Six weeks in, and I'm down 15 pounds. I have taken before pictures, but I dare not post them in public yet. As I make progress, if there are visible results, maybe I'll post them. For now, you'll have to take my word for it.

I'm also writing a lot more, working on stories that probably no one else but me will read. I'm playing the guitar every day, even though I'm not any good. I play power chords. Loudly. Boom. With the odd song I'm capable of actually playing pretty well, like Beatles' tunes "In My Life" and "Day Tripper." I don't know how or why I can play them, but they come out.

All in all, it could be worse. Just need the outstanding issues that contributed to the initial malaise to be settled.

As I have said far too infrequently lately, LIFE IS GOOD.


  1. Awesome man, glad to hear you have a plan to stick to - jealous you have an NC State softball team - ol' St. matt's team #2 just started our season. Obviously a good crew - beat up on those other NC schools Saturday, will see you back in Charlotte one of these days

  2. Congrats on losing the weight dude -- I'm in DC for the summer, so if you feel like you need to get out for a drink or something, feel free to give me a shout!