Archive for recovery

Day 6 – healthy, fit, strong, and in-shape: not the same thing

Posted in about, fitness with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by healthordeath

I wrote on my day 1 post that I am a fitness nut, and I meant the nut part quite literally. Who else would willingly sign up to run the Tough Mudder 10 mile obstacle course – with water events – in late Fall? (proof coming)

Fitness became one of my passions around the time I entered the third decade of my life, when I saw – much as I do now – two roads: die slowly from poor health and weakness, or take control of my life and get better. I took to watching what I ate and started exercising, though at first I had no real idea what I was doing. I more of ate what everyone tells you is healthy food, I started running 2 miles a day, and I went to the gym and used every machine I saw. It worked, for the most part, and I lost around 60 pounds while building muscle. I wasn’t trim, though, because I was limited in my healthy eating by being stuck on a college campus. I was strong.

The problem came when my “progress” slowed. A lot of people get to their target weight and still end up unhappy in part, I think, because us scale junkies get addicted to seeing that number go down. I know I was, and in my case I went off the deep end. I progressively increased my exercise volume and decreased my food intake. When that didn’t work, I figured it must be what I’m eating (which was partly true) and started obsessing over food. I checked labels neurotically, I put stuff into and out of my cart more than once, and took forever to shop. I have taken an hour to buy peanut butter.

I hit a wall when I was trying to bike 30 miles every couple of days and lift weights daily and attend intense martial arts classes 2-3 times a week. I tried to fuel this with a couple of pieces of bread with peanut butter, a banana, and a homemade protein bar. I felt like death every night but, surprisingly, I also had trouble sleeping. I knew I needed to eat more, but I could not make myself do it. I did, however, lean out to single digit body fat. I was in-shape.

My solution to this was an accidental revelation. One night, out of a strong desire to not feel like death I cracked open the liquor drawer and poured myself a strong beverage. Within minutes, the strangest thing happened: I wanted to eat! With my inhibitions suppressed, I could slam down all the calories I needed, then sleep off the buzz. And this is how I fueled my fad workouts for a while. I did P90X; I did Insanity; I did them together (with weight-training too); I bought into kettlebells; I practiced yoga. I was fit.

Unsurprisingly, that lifestyle was unsustainable, and I have crashed hard. What gives me hope is that I no longer have the problem that caused me to start drinking regularly. As it turns out, when you cut out processed junk, eat when you are hungry, focus on nutrient dense foods, and learn not to fear fat, the body does a pretty good job of aligning how much you want to eat with how much you need to eat. I’m also over being a scale junky and a calorie counter (I am convinced that calories in/calories out is bunk, but more on that later). My only obstacle between me and health is my addiction.

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Day 3 – AKA Day 1 part 2 and learning to laugh

Posted in musings with tags , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by healthordeath

First, an aside: last nights dinner was a chili I had made and frozen a while back. It wasn’t until this morning that I remembered the secret ingredient: bourban added in the last 20 minutes.  While some alcohol does burn out when cooking, it’s not nearly as much as most people think. Since I’m 100% serious about the 60 days commitment, I will be posting daily to 62 days.

When I first realized that I had a problem, any discussion of alcohol made me uncomfortable. What I learned over time was that I had to get over this feeling if I wanted to beat my condition. How can I be recovered if I feel awkward when someone asks for a middle shelf rum recommendation (Cruzan Black Strap)? If I can’t relate funny drunken stories (coming eventually)? If I can’t enjoy over the top comedy like Epic Meal Time? It’s not possible.

Yao Ming Laughing Internet Meme

the best medicine

In truth, the ultimate victory would be to laugh. In addition to being good for you, laughter indicates that the subject matter is odd, out of place, or untrue. Just look at Dave Chapelle, who makes something as serious as racism look silly by laughing at it. For the other side of the picture, imagine really laying into right hook and having the other guy laugh at you. Intimidating, no? I suppose treating a condition like this is similar to the good “bad story”, you know those times that sucked a lot when they happened but make really great stories afterwords.

So to get over this, I will try to respond to any questions any of you have in the comments and sign off today with an (albeit poor) attempt at humor:

The worst part about blacking out and waking up to find two pounds of bacon missing from the fridge isn’t the hangover or the bloating, its not having the memory of eating two pounds of bacon.

Day 2 – I am not my condition, and neither are you

Posted in about, musings with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2012 by healthordeath

As I mentioned in my first post, I am an alcoholic, and while that term is what I am, it is not who I am. I see myself as a person with an illness, something that I need to fix. Traditionally, they say that alcoholism is for life – that you never really recover – and that you will fight it for the rest of your life.

I don’t accept that.

If I resign myself to that mantra, I may as well go drink myself to death right now because I will be accepting that I am going to fight myself every day.  I don’t want to live like that. I was thinking about this today and it seems more and more like people with conditions are routinely told that all they can do is cope and take medications.

Diabetic? No hope there, just take insulin. Never mind changing your diet, there is no way you are going to get better.

MS? None here. Take these pills as you slowly degenerate, since you can’t fix this one either.

Ulcerative Colitis? Just treat the symptoms with steroids. Don’t bother fixing the underlying problem.

Fibromyalgia? Celiac? How many other conditions are really “permanent”? While alcoholism is different from these conditions, I still have to think that if I can treat the underlying reason I drank that the term “recovered alcoholic” may someday be what I am. As for that underlying reason, thats a topic I’ll have to unpack.