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    « When Life gets in the Way | Main
    Friday
    Aug012008

    Where I Am at 39

    In order to understand where we are going, we have to understand where we are. Naturally, this blog is going to come across as negative, defeatist, and unpleasant. This is to be expected, since looking like I do has a negative impact on my overall being. Never mind that it's hard to describe my body and how it makes me feel with any degree of "ooh-la-la". Bluntly, I am fat, out of shape, and gross. Glossing over such a description only creates mental and emotional barriers that are all but impossible to overcome. Before I can change, I have to admit that I have a problem.

    For those of you who may be just sitting there eating a bag of chips and drinking a soda but are in otherwise fine shape, the following is a wake up call to what you could become without a specific change in your life. For you twenty-somethings out there, this is a reminder that you won't be in your twenties forever - and bad habits that your metabolism is currently managing with little difficulty will become raging issues in the next decade or so. You are about to read what could be your future - I am the living anecdote for what abusive personal behaviors can create.

    Grossness - I am your poster-boy!

    Let's start with the basics. I'm going to walk over to that scale over <~~~~~ there and weigh myself real quick-like. My scale measures body weight, body fat percentage, and actually saves the data for comparison at a later date. So, I'll be right back after I weigh myself....

    ...... dopey, doh.... mmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmm.... here it comes......

    There. 198 lbs at 28.3% body fat. Those stats put me in a category of overweight but not quite obese, which is 30% body fat. What does that mean? Of my 198 pounds, 56 of them are made of pure fat - adipose, blubber, grease. By comparison, a person of equal weight (198 lbs) with a 6-pack and well defined musculature would have about about 14-17 pounds of body fat.

    Since my muscle tone is pretty much nil, I'd say that I have about 40 pounds of fat to lose while trying to develop muscle mass and definition. A tall order, but not an impossible one.

    So, I carry about 40 extra pounds of body fat with me everywhere I go. Now let's talk about the effects this has on my body. I'll list them for the sake of brevity, but these are the actual physical effects that I deal with every day (or night):

    • Fatigue
    • Lower back pain
    • Heartburn (gastro-esophogeal reflux)
    • Achy joints
    • Headaches
    • Low self-esteem
    • Poor body image
    • Self-deprecating statements (speaking badly of oneself)
    • Bloated feelings
    • Flatulence (there, I said it. I fart - OK? Everybody does it!)
    • Temper
    • Very LOUD snoring
    • Poor sleep patterns

    There are also some potential effects that are unseen and more dangerous:

    • High blood pressure
    • Hypertension
    • Strain on the heart
    • High cholesterol
    • Arterial blockage
    • Diabetes or pre-diabetes
    • Sleep apnea

    Pretty nice life if you can get it, huh? Well, I've discovered that the easy way to achieve the results you see above is to do absolutely, positively nothing good for yourself for a few years. Do that, and you'll be all caught up with where I am now.

    You'll then understand why I'm not excited.

    Now let's look at how I got where I am - what kind of behaviors got me the results that I'm describing? Well, you know me - I'm going to tell you.

    Breakfast - fast food, usually a sausage-egg-cheese biscuit. Oh yeah, and a soda. First thing in the morning.
    Lunch - fast food, usually something like a bean burrito, nachos, and a soda. Always soda.
    Dinner - I love my wife. She cooks great meals for me that are nicely balanced - meat (chicken, fish, beef, pork, venison), carbs (potatoes or rice), and a nice green vegetable. And, of course, I add a soda. Unfortunately, as good as the actual dinner happens to be, I usually screw it up later with...
    Dessert/evening snack - Ice cream or chips and dip or salsa - and soda.  Usually around 10:00 PM or so.

    The above eating program is guaranteed to add pounds to your butt and inches to your waste guaranteed or your money back. As an added bonus, you get all the aches, pains, and health risks associated with the program at no extra cost!

    All kidding aside, I was consuming somewhere between 4000-5000 calories per day (the above list leaves out between-meal snacks that were frequently consumed) with little to no activity outside of walking to and from my car and around the building at work. Since it takes about 3500 calories to burn a pound of fat, it becomes obvious that the 2500 or so calories I actually burned each day did not balance with the amount I was eating. The net result is a lot of extra food being converted to waste that is excreted or fat that is slapped on my already jiggly belly.

    On a side note, I once heard someone say that it is impossible to lose or maintain weight when one is drinking his/her calories. Soda is little more than refined sugar and water. There are few calories in soda, but the body has to do literally nothing to process them. The net result is that the caffeine jacks the metabolism and the sugar immediately transports every bit of food in the system to the butt, thighs, and belly in the form of fat. Caffeine is also a diuretic (it makes your body release water), which causes dehydration, muscle stress (including the heart), and fatigue.

    Soda = bad. Water = good.

    As you have seen, my dietary practices were, shall we say, lacking in true substance.

    Finally, let's talk sleep. I generally operate on somewhere between 5-6 hours of sleep. The end result of that is I'm sometimes slower than a January molasses flow, both physically and mentally. I have periods of lethargy, usually right after lunch, and I become a danger to myself and others while driving. At my age (39 for those who might have forgotten), I should be getting 8 hours at a minimum of quality sleep, with 9 being preferred. Sleep is the time when the body recharges and repairs itself. Without proper sleep amounts, the body heals more slowly and recharging is almost impossible

    So, there you have it. My lifestyle in a digital nutshell. Naturally the next step is to identify what good eating habits look like - and no, I'm not talking about starvation diets or fads. I'll get into the specifics soon; that discussion with be the subject of my next blog. Stay tuned.

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