Category Archives: WGOM Fitness

Dedicated to posts about member’s on-going efforts to get and stay in shape.

On doing things, not great but better than not at all

So, in the interest of living life I've decided to do things. My last fitness? post centered around the new class of drugs and the results I've seen. I was kinda shocked with the response from the community. Many thanks to all of y'all for gentleness and grace which brings me around to the second edition of On Doing Good, Not Great.

A good friend lives in Vegas and last spring we went out for 5 days to get lost in the desert, gamble, see some art, and catch up with old friends. We had a great time doing some of the more tourist stuff you can do in a tourist city. At one point I asked my man how he found living in Vegas.  He just chuckled and said, "I love it, there is always something happening in town that I'm not going to go to". I hadn't summed up living in Nawlins* quite like that but it hit home. We got back form Vegas and we decided to do some more things that were out of our comfort range.

I decided that I don't want to work for the current set of clowns I work for and signed up for the first of 4 semesters of Chemistry. Whoa Nelly. I'm taking names and calculating moles but it's not without great effort. Thermodynamics isn't really my friend but we're on speaking terms. (in truth, math is my main hurdle - I can hack the algebra but any calculus results in much swearing) I'm currently sitting on a 99% for lecture and a 96.75% for lab (GD post lab questions due at midnight when lab ends at 10 pm .... I'm a tired old man....GOML) I'm pleasantly surprised with. my ability to learn new things again - funny sometime I stopped applying myself and .... welp .... here I am.

I went to 2 concerts in 2 weeks - nutty for me now, but I once went to at least a show a month. In my youth I went every weekend to see a punk band lay waste to my future hearing. (BTW, Kurt Vile is in pretty great form right now....)

Today I went way outside my comfort zone and joined an Aikido Dojo and got my ass handed to me. I'm not sure how long I'll practice but the initial course is 6 weeks. I'm going to see it out even though I'm pretty sore (in a great way, minus the hard roll I took on my left knee). Dr. Chop asked me to describe my first experience with Aikido and I think full contact yoga sums it up nicely.

For a long stretch, not helped by the pandemic but definitely there before covid, I felt like life was happening at me. Taking the drug has reduced my mass by nearly 21%. No joking, that's EEEFFFFFFing bananas (though, to be fair to me, I still don't see it...). I would never have thought of practicing a martial art before the jab.

I have no idea where any of this goes. Maybe I get through the chemistry and I lack the will or desire to go further. Maybe I won't be able to walk tomorrow because I'm old and frail. But I do know that I've reconnected to doing things and that feels pretty great.

Anywho, I hope y'all are finding joy in these uncertain times.


*no one says this

Bo’s Running Hartford

One of my friends recently completed running all of the streets of West Hartford - took her from Jan-Nov last year.  She used a map+spreadsheet to track her work and plotted it out on a map of the city.  Cool project.

Yesterday, during my run, I decided to run all of the streets of H’istan.  So I found a good street map of the city, went to FedEx, and had them print it out poster size:

This morning, I began my challenge in SoWendHa (South West-End Hartford), and did 3.2 miles covering 5 complete streets and parts of 8 others.  This neighborhood is predominantly Puerto Rican, Portuguese, and Brazilian.  My finds included some historical curiosities, awesome road bling, and a Portuguese bakery with almond-crusted croissants.

In thinking about the overall task, I’m looking for completeness (every street, entire street) as well as efficiency (not covering the same stretch more than necessary), but I need to take into account that I can only do 3-5 miles each time out.

If the city streets were perfect squares, and tiled the plane perfectly, I could take inspiration from something like the Dragon Curve (which doesn’t cross it’s own path).  Four of these, each rotated 90 degrees, completely tiles the plane.

But a city is not a perfect plane - has dead ends, boulevards, greens, cul-de-sacs, islands, curves, roundabouts, etc.  And I need to return to my car after each segment.

When I go to a museum, in order to see each piece of art, I follow a simple pattern of go to the left, until a room is completed, then take the next left turn, etc.  This gives me completeness, but would not take into account segment lengths.

Any thot’s on how to approach this?

On being better, not great

I've struggled with weight my entire life. When folks were bing nice they called me husky, when not being nice they called me lots of other things. Later in life I became big man. (Seriously, everyone who wants my attention on the street calls me big man (an aside, there is this bellman who works at a hotel between two of my museum's buildings. I see him all the time. A couple years ago his house burned down. Tragic. Right before thanksgiving. I passed him some cash as I've been there and it's a terrible place to be. We chatted about the kind of crushing loss that comes from losing all your shit and how you're glad to be alive but all your time is consumed with figuring out how to get the basics of life covered. Anyway, months later he asks if I know any furniture restorers - I do. I give him the names of a couple guys. A couple months later he calls the museum and is transferred to my desk because he's forgotten the names I gave him. He say, hey, do you work the a heavy set fella? I say, that would be me. He says oh, not heavy set, healthy guy. big man...................))

I've counted carbs, watched weight, drank less, ate only white foods, had a can of green beans a day, didn't orange Julius but might have if I was a bit older, and lost hope along the way. I've exercised, biked to work, strength trained and beat myself on the cardio machines. I work a pretty active job, but now that I'm management I spend a lot more time at my desk.

Enter a bad trip to the doctor. I generally do not shy away from knowledge, though being diagnosed as diabetic kinda crushed me. Moral failure. (I know, I know, not really but that's the thought process). Enter a deepening depression already deep enough with the state of the world. I fired my PCP for a variety of reasons but high up on the list was the way they delivered the news - phone call and an email telling me to pick up a prescription. No follow up. No information. No referral. Just take these pills for the rest of your life, you're fine.

New PCP is a great doctor. Very communicative and very interested in long term enjoyment of life. Says, hey, let's work on some of this. Try to lose some weight. Take it seriously. I do and I did. Problem is that that I just don't lose the weight. Doc says my A1c is climbing a bit despite my efforts at diet and exercise. Says, look, there are these new classes of drugs on the market. Lots of concern tho, no long term understanding regarding  life time drugs or if lifestyle change means you can taper off them in a year and maintain health gains. We weighed the risks and rewards and I chose to jab myself every week (though I've already been injecting shit to kill the hives* so what's another couple jabs a month)

The crazy part is that almost instantly everything changed. I guess I had no idea how much time I spent dealing with or thinking about food. I love to cook. Cooking is an expression of both love and creativity. That isn't what I'm talking about when I say that I didn't know how much of my life was dominated by food thought. Almost impossible to describe.

The weight fell off of me at first. My best friend in NOLA left in June. We kinda had a nawlins** bender before he left which I'm sure didn't help my overall health picture. I started the course of drugs in July and when I saw my man at the MN state fair on Labor Day I was down ~20 pounds. He was shocked. I was shocked. I am shocked.

In the 4.5 months since I started taking a drug designed to control blood sugar (and taken by lots of folks who want to lose the extra 20 pounds) I've lost a considerable amount of weight, but I've also changed almost every aspect of my life. I still drink too much, if I'm honest, but I've been far more active, I eat considerably more healthy than I did prior, and my a1c is low enough to be considered elevated but not diabetic - though I'll carry that diagnosis for the rest of my life.

Lots of stuff to unpack. I have many mixed feelings about the drug. On one hand it's effing amazing in the ability to control sugar and food noise, on the other have I failed so hard I need to be on a drug to bring me back from the edge????!? (also, I don't engage with fast food or 'ultra' processed foods that often, but I am certain that the food scientists addicted millions to their products and now Lilly is here to provide a cure in the form of another addiction) I get that some folks see these drugs as cheating. I didn't engage with this for vanity. The visible change, tho, is what drives people to ask what/how/are you? and say things like you look great (thanks, but that implies I also looked like shit previously...) All to say that when you're big man people have opinions and do not hesitate to share them.

I'm continuing to shrink a bit. I've been lifting again to maintain muscle. Thinking about going to a strength trainer. My life is largely the same but very different. Colleagues and strangers all treat me differently now that I'm not big man anymore. Strange to wander around as a different human in the same skin.

*thanks covid

**no one says this

Walk With Bo

After I got out of the hospital last summer (Duodenal Ulcer with Complications), and was relearning how to walk, I started this deal where I would get different people to go for walks with me.   Most of the walks were from my house up and around the paths in Elizabeth Park (just down the street) or down 199th St. in Scandia.

After more than a year since I started WWB, I've walked with 64 different partners (including 4 dogs) - of course I spreadsheet this.  Many of them have walked with me multiple times, usually 2.2-3.2 miles - I try to vary the route each time, and we go out rain or shine.

Let me know if you are around and would like to join me (Hartford or Scandia).

So Nation, what are you up to for exercise lately?

Coins, Golf Balls

Since my hospitalization last year, I've been trying things to build back stomach and other muscles.

The first exercise was 20 Coins.  I have a dish of miscellaneous foreign coins that I pour on the floor, and have to pick up one at a time, alternating hands.

The most recent one I'm doing now is picking golf balls out of a bowl at the base of the stairs, the "cup" being exactly 4 inches deep.  So I have to bend down further than I'm used to.  I found that on a recent trip to Vail that I didn't have the range of motion to get the ball out of the cup after putting.  So after 3 days now I'm up to 6 golf balls!  My goal is 18 balls.


So I'm at the club swimming yesterday, and there's this lady in the lane next to me, swimming with a snorkle.

When we both finished a lap at the same time I asked her why the snorkle.  She said it was because of arthritis, so moving her head to breathe out of one side of her head would give her a lot of pain.  I asked if she was on any medications.  She said no.

I've been swimming now for 4 weeks since the hospitalization, and its going good - breathing is strong, good SWOLF (see Garmin) and it's really a relaxing exercise.

I showed her my belly scar (jagged rip from sternum to belly button) - warning, people with scars always want to show them off - and she gasped (they always do).  She asked my age, and then told me she was 75.  She was swimming a mile!  What an inspiration!


Back in the saddle

After being in the hospital ("big-house") from January 3rd thru most of March - most of it in the ICU and all of it on my back in a bed, I did 20 days in a re-hab hospital (the "hotel"), and now have been home for about a month.  Still a lot of healing in my wounds.

I can walk now (without a walker), averaging 1.5mi and don't get winded.  Also, on Sunday, I swam for the first time this year (2 laps), and on Tuesday 4 laps.  Honestly, I cried after the first half lap I was so happy.  My arms are weak (like a little girl), but they do the job and my SWOLF (google Garmin for this) is only 10 points above where I was before IT happened.

So Nation, how are you keeping active/healthy?

WGOM Fitness: Progress, but at a cost

As I've mentioned before I both refurbished my bike and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Both events lit the proverbial fire under me in terms of getting the exercise I just hadn't been getting enough of.  Overall, its been a great success! I was in pretty bad shape as of 2-3 years ago and had plateaued after only losing about ten pounds. This summer, though, I've pushed that weight loss to over 50 pounds and am on the verge of dropping below 200 lbs for the first time in over a decade. I look and feel pretty amazing. I've been working up my riding to where I am doing about 80-100 miles per week, or so, although I feel a bit like I've plateaued on gainz there, the weight is still coming off. As a result, I am already off of insulin and I'll find out in a couple weeks how my A1C is doing. In short, biking rules.

My second reason for writing this, though, is something of a warning. Shortly after I got out of the hospital, the ring and pinkie finger on my left hand stopped working like they are supposed to. I basically can't move them towards the rest of my fingers. It makes doing simple things like tying my shoes difficult. At first I figured it might be related to the diabetes, but since it was only in my left hand was told that was not the case. I didn't immediately make the connection to the increased amount of cycling I'd been doing. Seems I've come down with a case of cyclsists palsy. I am almost certain I've been putting too much weight on my hands while I ride, so I am starting to look into getting a professional fit done to see if I can alleviate that. (and spreading copious amounts of NSAID gel on my arm). One of the hospitals in Madison does it, so I'm hoping it can be covered by the insurance.

Anyway, moral of the story is, biking rules but do it wisely. Building your own bike from scratch also rules, but you gotta be very cognizant of where you locate everything. Hopefully the damage to my nerve is not permanent, but take a lesson from me here.

(but also, seriously and holy crap, I've lost over 50 lbs and am working on getting to 60. I'm very impressed with myself, ngl.)

WGOM Fitness: Happy, But Not Satisfied

We haven't had a dedicated fitness post in a while, so I thought I'd kick one off.

I'd mentioned a while back that I've made some progress in the weight loss category. On January 4th I weighed in at (a holiday-inflated, late-in-the-day inflated) 236. That was the highest I've ever been. This morning I weighed in at 206. The weight loss has been pretty consistent - about a pound a week, sometimes less, sometimes a little more (30 lbs over 24 weeks - that math works out).

The thing is, it has really only been small changes that have paid off. A quick list of some of those changes/factors that contributed:

1. I have essentially given up pop.
2. I had Covid (lost a few extra pounds that week, post-covid parsomia contributes to not wanting to eat so much).
3. Far less snacking at night. I'm not quite doing intermittent fasting, but I suppose it is structurally similar. A little bit of leeway with myself keeps it from feeling oppressive.
4. Lunches from home. I've often gone through spells where I don't plan ahead and/or go home for lunch, and that often leads to eating something from the gas station kitchen, or one of the few restaurants in town, or stopping at the grocery store and grabbing something microwavable. Philosofette has been at home over the past 6 months, and that's enabled a lot more attention to my lunchtime diet.
5. Finding small activity. More walks. I took Aquinas kayaking a few weeks ago. I started a small amount of lifting 2 times a week. I'm making sure I'm playing ball or tossing around the frisbee with my kids more often. Etc. Just finding little things, instead of feeling like I need to go for a run.

Ultimately, turning 40 was a really good motivator for me. I knew that was coming up, so I had a good goal in mind and I was able to stick with it. Then, I quickly set another goal and I'm working towards that. Keeping the goals at the forefront has been what has enabled the other changes.

I genuinely don't remember the last time my weight was this low. Probably at least 10 years - I think I came out of law school over 200 (law school was very unkind to me weight-wise). But even though I weighed about the same 10 years ago, I know that weight sat a lot better - it was more muscle, less fat - so I'm aware of how much further I have to go. Essentially, I'm happy, but not satisfied. Because, when it really comes down to it, I think the goal-setting has been as important as anything else.