Tag Archives: weight

Slipping into the American life style

It’s the last day of February. I’ve made four entries into this blog and probably gone to four yoga classes too. I’ve gained five pounds, setting off personal health alarms, which contributes to not getting to the yoga studio or the gym. The weather has been chilly, if not frigid for most of this month, with a few balmy breaks, so I have not been lured outside. My wife is away visiting her family in Peru, and I am home taking care of the dogs.

And of course, there’s the job. Things have been going great  at DMI. I feel privileged to be clearing a new career path at this stage of my life. My work as a technical proposal writer strikes the tricky balance between exploiting my skill set and experience and making me stretch to complete the assignment with the quality needed. If I run into difficult, I don’t get down on myself because I know I have a team backing me up. I’ve also noticed that I am more resilient — when I run into a problem, I usually  bounce back with a solution the next day, after sleeping on it.

Writing responses to Federal requests for proposals (RFPs) and similar documents is not going to win me a Pulitzer Prize, but it is disciplined writing. Lessons can be applied in other formats. The assignments require sprints of one or two weeks to finish. I am being given more independence, not having to check in with my boss. I’ve even been asked to teach a young copy editor how to write, mentoring him for the day when he can take on proposals himself. It’s harder to find solutions architects (the professional who pulls together the parts of a proposal) that can write than it is to find writers who can handle IT subject matter, according to one of my supervisors.

Now the bad news

Becoming so absorbed into my work has meant that it is hard to get myself to a yoga class or to the fitness club. I put in longer hours to meet deadlines. I even work on weekends. I find it hard to go to the fitness room on the first floor of my work place. At the end of the day, I am emotionally and physically squeezed dry. If I go home after work, I can’t get myself out again.  The convenient location of my job, only a 15-minute drive from home, means I don’t have a long commute, but I don’t get the benefit of walks to and from the Metro. The more out of shape I become, the harder it gets to get back in shape, the slower the recovery.

The personal habits and patterns that served me well over the past 10 years or so are broken, and the end result is good, but I’ve got to find a way of readjusting my life so that it’s physically and emotionally sustainable. Otherwise, I will fall into the mold of the American office worker — drives to work, sits in front of a keyboard, eats more than his body needs, develops a paunch and fails to get enough exercises. After three months on my new job, I realize that I could end up that way.

Another knotch in the belt

In the ongoing tale of my waistline, I have dropped another inch, bringing me down to 36 inches. I’ve had to go out and buy three new belts because the old ones looked awful with the extra holes punched in. I started tracking my waist measurement in December when I went down to 38 inches. I know at the start of 2006, I was closer to 40 inches. I hate to think of what I was before I began to practice yoga seriously. I still have a long way to go before my core strength is sufficient to sustain my practice.

However, I am still pegged at 193-195 pounds as my fighting weight. I still find it hard to cut out the sweets in my diet, ice cream and chocolate, especially, and too many snacks before bedtime. That’s a formula for continued weight problems.

Another knotch in the belt

I have taken another inch off my waist since my previous entry on this point a month ago. I would say that’s good progress, given that Christmas and other opportunities for gluttony also occupied that same time span. My weight is about the same, 194 pounds, though it did shoot up during the holiday excesses. On the other hand, my weight has been steady for the past 12 months. But I’ve probably turned a lot of fat into muscle during that time, but have not reached my weight goal. I’ve come to the realization that I am going to have to pay more attention to what I eat because taking pounds off is a lot harder than putting them on. If I were really strict, I should be aiming to get my weight down to 165 pounds, what I weighed back when I got married. It would make my yoga practice a lot easier.

I am reading You on a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, as well as Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating by Walter C. Willet and Patrick J. Skerret. The latter is a rigorous, science-based examination of U.S. nutrition and eating habits. You on a Diet is equally science-based, but it’s more practically oriented, geared to popularizing the message of healthy eating and written with a light, humorous style that some people may find distracting — drawings of cute elves running around your digestive track. Roizen and Oz mine the Harvard studies on nutrition for a lot of their recommendations. These complementary books were Christmas gifts from my daughter, Stephanie, and her boyfriend, Ron. It’s nice to know that they want me to take care of myself.

Cutting Down on the Waist

I took the advice of the Doctor’s Center at RealAge: Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen says that a better indicator of health is your waist measurement, rather than obsessing about weight. That advice struck a nerve with me because I have been conscious of my poor core strength.

For the past two-three weeks, I’ve been concentrating on getting core work in almost every day, even days when I go to my yoga classes. Lots of yogic crunches, bicycle crunches, side and regular planks, kind of working all sides of my trunk so that I don’t overwork my abs and distort my muscular balance. This week I took out the tap measure and was rewarded with a full inch drop in my waist. I’m down to 38 inches. Optimally, I need to lose another three inches, and that would probably go a long way to getting my weight down.

Another reward: in my yoga class last night, I noticed that in trikonasana (triangle pose) I rested my lower hand on the floor. Before, I had to place my hand on my ankle or lower shin.

A late message from Scrooge

I have limped through the holidays, and now, several days on the other side of the Holiday Season, I can say that I hate the disruption that the holidays introduced into my yoga practice. I stopped going to classes (reduced schedules at my yoga studios), too many other family issues to keep me off the mat, and plenty of excuses to justify the relapse. I put on five pounds because of the huge meals our family consumed, the abundance of treats, and a general lack of restraint. When I finally got back to my yoga practice, the first sessions were torture. My extra pounds felt like a tombstone around my neck. I had to drop into child’s pose to regain my breath. I’ve struggled to regain my momentum, but it’s come back little by little.