Hello and welcome to my first blog post. I have been wanting to do this for quite some time now and my hesitation was partly due to my fear of the unknown and partly because I can be lazy at times, despite the fact that I claim to despise laziness whenever other people show this character flaw.
I have named this first post “Trials & Triumphs” because I’ve decided to use it as a means of introducing myself to this brand new world by the telling of recent events in my life (both good and bad).
Two years ago this coming April (2012) I quit smoking. I smoked a pack a day for 30 years and it was no easy task. I had attempted to give up this terrible addiction probably a dozen times, but was never able to do it long-term. What was different this time? This time I decided that I would get some help and went to see my doctor to get a prescription for Champix. This pill, used to help patients lessen the physical side of withdrawal symptoms, helped me tremendously. It really took the “edge” off…you know, that feeling you get when someone pisses you off and you automatically think of punching them in the throat? This pill, like most medications, may have some undesirable side effects but they only occur in about 1% of those who use it. It’s also not certain if this drug may be risky for those with cardiovascular issues so like most medications, it’s wise to speak with your doctor before taking it. It’s a little pricey, but no more than a pack a day habit costs and when the treatment time of 3 months is over, then all the money you would have spent on cigarettes, or the drugs to help you quit cigarettes, is now yours to save or spend on something that is going to help you, instead of slowly kill you. I still get a craving once in a while, but it’s usually only when I pass someone getting their nicotine fix outside but for the most part, I can’t stand the smell and I have no regrets about giving this filthy habit up.
A few months after that, I gave up a pot smoking habit as well. I was having problems with anxiety and depressions and when I went to speak to a professional, the first thing he made me do was give it up (the bastard….lol). All kidding aside, marijuana isn’t a harmless drug that should be legalized (although while I was smoking it I would have argued that point vehemently), but a sneaking narcotic that gives you a false sense of peace, but in actuality it is completely screwing up your tolerance to stress and anxiety and can send you plummeting to new lows as depression takes its hold. If you are an avid toker, you will probably not agree with me, but then again, you won’t be able to see it until you finally give it up yourself. I also have no regrets giving this habit up and enjoy having the extra money in my pocket and an even temper.
Just when I started to feel better about myself and began to reap the health benefits of ditching my two addictions, God decided to remind me that I am human after all, despite my delusions of having super powers. On Mother’s Day 2011, I started to not feel very well. I was weak and tired, so I went to bed early in preparation for going to work the next day. Sure enough, when my alarm went off the next morning and I swung my feet over the side of bed, it was obvious that I had picked up “something” and that going to work was out of the question. I called my boss and then made my way to the hospital. If anything else, I needed a note explaining that I was ill and would need a few days off of work. The doctor did a few tests that turned up nothing, said it was probably the flu and sent me home with a note to take the rest of the week off of work. I stayed in my pajamas all week, making my green rocking lazy boy my new perch and did not much else but sleep, watch tv and surf the net on my laptop. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.
By the following Saturday, I still felt like shit only now, I had chest pains to add to my symptom list. I went back to the hospital. Once I explained what had happened up until that point, they seemed to wake up a little. They sent me for a chest x-ray (which came back negative, or at least they thought so at the time) and an MRI (the one where they inject you with a dye beforehand) and then they finally saw it. To be sure, they did a final blood test (not telling me a damn thing up until that point), which confirmed the conclusion that they had drawn earlier; I had several blood clots (pulmonary embolism) in both of my lungs.
If you’re not sure about the severity of blood clots, if they had happened in my heart, I would have had a heart attack. If they had happened in my brain, it would have been a stroke. They quickly injected me (in my stomach) with a good dose of Coumadin, which is a blood thinner, and they took blood samples and blood pressure on the hour every hour for the next 2 days. After that, I was allowed to go home although I had to have a nurse come to the house for daily stomach injections (at $50 a shot) for the next 2 weeks. Eventually the injections changed to pills and the length of time between blood tests gets longer and longer unless there is a problem. I have had just a couple of setbacks over the last 9 months but all in all, I am pretty much back to normal.
Back in Shape
As you can imagine, all of these events led to some weight gain. When I quit smoking cigarettes, I gained about 15-20 pounds. The cessation of pot didn’t really put on extra weight, but I gradually gained weight over the next year or so, with the final insult of another 15 pounds while recovering from the blood clots. I “nested” in my chair for 5 weeks, only doing what was absolutely essential and what I couldn’t get my kids to do. So, with about 45 extra pounds on my 5’11″ frame, I was feeling quite heavy and found that dragging my now fatter ass around was quite tiring. I was taking daily walks (lots of hills) but even after a month of daily walking, I was still gasping for breath going uphill and was quickly getting discouraged.
I have NEVER been someone who worked out on a regular basis, to be honest, I never felt that I needed to because I always had a slim but curvy shape and at the most, never had more than 5 or 10 pounds that could come off without making me look skinny. How the hell was I going to lose THAT much weight!
Now, I had never been a huge fan of the Dr. Phil show (although I’ve come to appreciate it more in the last few months) but for some reason, I flipped it on that day near the end of December. He was talking about a new diet & exercise program called “The Pink Method.” For the first week or two (depending on how much weight you need to lose in all), your diet consists of: a protein shake for breakfast (1 cup berries, 1 cup almond or coconut milk, 1 scoop whey protein), vegetables for lunch (cooked or raw) and 4 oz lean protein and vegetables for supper. Bread, pasta, dairy products, oil, sugar are a big no-no as well as anything “artificial”. The more processed the food is, the bigger the no-no. I’ve never been a huge veggie fan so this was a big challenge for me. At first, I bought all kinds of vegetables…but that only cost me a fortune and I didn’t like half of them. Since then, I’ve narrowed it down to about 10, with the lean protein being chicken or fish. I also had to give up my fattening coffee and now I drink green tea (black) and actually enjoy it.
After the initial period (called “reset”), you start Phase 1 which consists of 3 weeks of 35 minutes of exercise per day followed by another 4 days of reset. During the exercise periods, you can add another protein with lunch as well as gluten-free or sprouted grain bread (1 slice toasted along with an egg) for breakfast. The next 2 phases are the same, with the exercise time increasing by 10 minute increments for each phase.
I am still in the first week of Phase 1 but I’ve already lost about 10 lbs and 5 inches. The exercise instructors are demanding and enthusiastic and the diet portion was designed by a nutrition export so you can rest assured that they know what they’re doing. It’s hard not eating all of my regular junk food, but for the most part, I actually enjoy eating like this and plan to continue even after the program is done.
My Dream Realized,
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. When I got sick last May and decided to take some time off work, I said, “Why not now?” In November 2011, I published my first novel and in December, a collection of erotic short stories. They are both available on Amazon as e-books. If you’d like to learn more, click the “my books” link above or go to “connect” and visit my website.
Well, there you have it. My last two years in a nutshell. If I have learned anything at all in the past two years, it’s this:
-/Take stock of your life and get rid of the things that are hurting you or those you love
-/If you have a dream, do what you can (within reason) to make it a reality
-/Live each day like it’s your last, because it just might be.
Thank you for reading and you are welcome to come back anytime.