And so it begins… again…

So much self improvement in one year… First came the weight loss. So much weight loss. Fifty pounds later (and still losing) I started working on the running, for both weight loss assistance and for endurance training (and to prove that I could actually run a decent distance). 25-30 pounds later I ran a 5k race with a pretty good time and I’m feeling very good about myself, so it’s time to think about one of my original goals, which was to get back into SCA fighting.

So today I began that in earnest, by digging out my armor and trying it all on (a piece at a time). Some things fit, others most definitely do not. My half-gauntlets are fitting very well, so I took them – along with two swords and a shield – up to the attic to whale away on my punching bag for a bit. It felt good at first, but my right arm quickly tired from swinging the sword, so I switched the shield to my right and sword to my left and continued. The weight of the long sword was too much for my left arm, so I switched again to a shorter sword, until my left was good and tired. Took a break, put the shield down, picked the long back up with my right and went at it some more. When all my swings looked downright pathetic, I put the swords away and finished with a flurry of punches to the bag. Then, exhausted from my ~15 minutes of activity and feeling properly humbled, I took a nap. My forearms are quite sore now, identifying some muscles in my arms that apparently aren’t being worked enough when I hit the dumbbells in the gym. Considering the amount of work my armor needs, though, it’s not a huge problem that my body needs work too. Let’s do this.

February will mark the one year anniversary of getting my shit together. If I can get back on the tournament list by then, and also play a game of ice hockey by then, I will have achieved or exceeded all 4 of my goals. So I guess I should get my hockey gear out and check the fit of that, too.

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Addiction

The first step is admitting you have a problem. I’m ready to admit I have a problem. It all began last year after Michigan Homebrew Festival. The event was at a new site that year, with tall trees everywhere you looked. Shortly after that event, I saw a sale (on either Woot or Amazon (which owns Woot)) on hammocks. I thought to myself, “It would be awesome to have a hammock to sit in next year at MHF, so I bought one. Or course, it arrived well past hammock weather, which is why it was on sale I’m sure. I never really had a convenient time to use the hammock before MHF, because I only have a single tree at my house ever since disease caused the city to come through and remove all my other trees.

Then my birthday happened, and I had both cash and Amazon gift cards. And friends of mine had a housewarming party, at which I got to lie down in their hammock which was in a hammock stand. I went  to Amazon shortly afterwards and bought the exact same hammock and stand (again, on sale!) and instantly upon setting it up regretted not having bought one many years ago. Then MHF happened and I finally used the camping hammock. And slept in it. I fell in love. I then hammock-camped the next SCA event I went to. The SCA event after that, though, there was rain in the forecast. So I went back to Amazon for a rain fly, and found that the fly alone cost more than the hammock did. Incensed, I shopped around more and found a double hammock with mosquito netting and a rain fly for just a bit more than a fly alone, so…. I bought it!

Recently, I ran across a double hammock on Amazon Daily Deals, and bought that too, because (I reasoned) I might want a double hammock without mosquito netting, just for the sake of getting some cuddle time. So now I own 4 hammocks. But that didn’t get me to where I am now…

I just saw hammocks on sale again, and had the urge to go look at them. Enough is enough. I have a problem. Hammock addiction is a real thing. I need help.

 

Race day

Today was my first ever 5k race. It’s quite a big deal to me, because running is not anything I’ve ever done (without a damned good reason, and even then for short distances only) until about 3 months ago, when I began the C25K program. Week 1 of the program consists of walking for 60 seconds followed by running for 90 seconds, repeated for a total of 20 minutes. I did it on a treadmill, and my speed was set to 2.5 MPH for the walking and 3.5 MPH for the running. It was hard as hell, and I was very proud that I actually was able to complete the 20 minutes at all.

By the end of the (nominally 8-week) program (that took me a little over 9 weeks to finish), I was running at 5 MPH and walking (on the days that even involved walking at all) at 3.5 MPH. Today I ran 5k in 29:43 which is about 6.29 MPH. Better yet is when I looked at my stats per kilometer (courtesy of Zombies, Run!) and saw that I ran each of the 5 kilometers faster than the one before it. And instead of being dead tired at the end, I felt good!

Had you told me a year ago that I would run that far and enjoy it, I would have thought you insane. Pardon me now while I go question my own sanity.

 

Resume ALL the things!

It’s like a life reboot. I got back to my college weight, I resumed weight lifting (sort of… some is better than none?), picked blogging back up due to the inspiration and encouragement of a good friend of mine, recently blogged my intent to get back into fighting due to the inspiration of another friend… Hockey has also been on my “to-get-back-into” list for a while. Now I’ve just read an article that makes me really want to take up chess again as well. Add all that to new things that I’ve recently incorporated into my life, and you get: too many things to do, and too little time. Anybody got a winning lotto ticket I can have? :-p

At some point I’ll have to make some hard choices about what gets my time and what doesn’t, but until then life is just looking like a bunch of opportunities waiting to happen. Onward!

 

The power of suggestion

So at some point over the weekend, chatting with a friend of mine, she mentioned eating Altoids. Immediately I thought about how I used to eat Altoids quite a bit, and that I haven’t in years, and that I have no idea why I stopped. This morning when I stopped to fill up the tank on my Explorer, I went inside the station to grab some caffeine, and there was a line for the register. As I’m standing there, something catches at the corner of my eye. I bet you’ve already guessed that it was Altoids, haven’t you? It seems there’s now “Altoids Arctic”, which is “curiously cool” instead of “curiously strong”. And among the Arctic flavors was Strawberry. So yeah, I’ve been popping a steady stream of addictive strawberry mints into my mouth since then, thinking to myself “maybe this is exactly why I stopped.” The tin is staring at me now. I should put it out of sight. After I have one more.

Lets get ready to rumble!

I haven’t posted anything SCA in a long time. I used to be all about the fighting, but in recent years my focus has shifted to running “Battlefield Brewery” at SCA events. Essentially once per month throughout the camping weather months I go set up the bar and pour lots of free beer for my friends. It’s fun as hell, and I meet a lot of people I might not otherwise meet, and get to hear lots of stories and philosophies.

There are down sides as well: Essentially every event now takes 2 weekends (one weekend for brewing, then one weekend for serving), which is a pretty big chunk out of my calendar. Then in the cold months I go through withdrawal, because events move indoors and most indoor sites are not alcohol friendly (and even if they were, people who aren’t camping the night are less inclined to imbibe, with good reason!). Finally, there’s the small matter of me being too busy to do anything else. I know, I don’t have to be… I could fight during the day then open the bar after I finish fighting, but I just have an over-developed feeling of responsibility to the beer.

I’ve just come home from Crown Tournament, watching my good friend Lord Orn fight for the right to put my wife, Lady Faoiltigherna on the throne. It was a dry site, so I left the bar at home. Possibly the only event I’ve attended in the past 4 years where I did not spend the majority of my day devoted to beer. It was nice and relaxing, and I got to watch some highly skilled fighters lay into one another. Sadly, Orn did not win the day, but I was still inspired. When I started losing weight back in February, one of my stated goals was to get back into fighting. I think it may be time. I can spend my winter months in combat and my summer months at the bar, and any spare weekends (HAhahahahahahah, right…) in training.

Next step: see how much of my armor still fits me (probably none), and start making the necessary modifications. Maybe swing some sticks at the punching bag in the attic…

 

My weight loss journey

So, one of the bigger things going on in my life this year is that I’ve finally had enough of being fat. I mean, I still am, objectively speaking, but I had gone way beyond what the doctors call “morbidly obese”. I had become accustomed to weight in the mid-270’s for years, and suddenly I was climbing higher. I breached 300 pounds, and it made me extremely unhappy, and I fought back down to 275 and promised myself “never again”, naively thinking that I could continue being… not happy, but not-miserable at that 270-280 range.

Except whatever caused me to get over 300 in the first place was apparently not a fluke but a new “normal”, and my weight slowly crept back up again. About a year ago I started tracking my weight every week or so, and generally trying to “do better”. More steps, fewer seconds at dinnertime… the weight kept going up: one pound here, two pounds there. In February of this year, I stepped on the scale at 293, and had the awakening that I wish I’d had many years ago. The “never again” promise I made myself echoed throughout my brain. “Doing better” obviously wasn’t good enough. As I’ve often said, “better is good, but good is better”.

I’ve dieted before. I lost a lot of weight with the Atkins diet, and kept it off until a car accident left me in a lot of pain and I turned to comfort food to ease that pain. Since I’ve gotten heavily into brewing, and made beer a major part of my life, low-carb is really not an option for me anymore. I’ve also lost weight through calorie counting twice before. The first time I simply got lazy about it (counting calories is a bit of effort, and downright complicated at times), and the second time I used it to get from 300+ back down to 275 and then stopped because that was my goal. So I found that some of my new friends were also calorie counters, and found their tool of choice: MFP. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for MFP, because it makes the chore of counting calories much easier, and the social aspect of it also provides a nice moral support group.

So here we are today, 81 pounds down from that 293 mark in February. I no longer check in “every week or so”, I check that damned scale *every*single*day* (aside from when I’m camping, or on the road for work), which gives me a really good chart of my progress, and what weight loss looks like (spoiler alert: not a straight line). I’ve also put together a NSFW progress pic. The “before” side was taken about a month into the weight loss, so… I was even worse than that when I started. The “after” side was taken 2-3 weeks ago, and I’m better than that now, with at least 17 pounds left to go, assuming I don’t move the goalposts again (I already blew past my original goal of 225, now heading for 195).

I’m also about to run a 5k race in 3 weeks. I’ve never even run a mile before in my entire life, but I can do so fairly effortlessly now. On a treadmill I can run 3 miles with a little effort. Outdoors is a bit rougher, but I’ve still got that mile in the bag, and I did 2 miles on Tuesday with just a bit of walking thrown in. My natural pace is a bit faster than what I’ve been doing on the treadmill, so I wind up running too fast to maintain it for the entire distance. I’ve got 3 weeks to work on that.

Let’s go for a walk

So I bought a book today. Inside, the author referenced a short story that he wrote. I found it rather interesting, insofar as it was written in the early 50’s, but still sounds rather topical aside from some obviously dated ideas about technology (e.g. punch cards for computers). Thankfully, things haven’t deteriorated to the point he predicted in the story, but I do think that the people who go walk just to “get air and see things” are in a minority. People are often wanting to blame “kids these days” and technology for this sort of thing, but if it was a complaint back in 1951, maybe we need to hang that idea up. At any rate, it gives me an urge to go for a walk. It occurs to me that I don’t do that enough.

Mind Killers

They say fear is the mind killer, and it’s true, but at least fear is a quick and merciful killer, a skilled assassin. Boredom is a bloody butcher of the mind, slowly hacking it, piece by piece, while it remains fully conscious of what is happening. Boredom is a real bastard.

Me time

Attending the SCA event, “Vikings Come Home” this weekend. Just past Boyne, across the road from Lake Charlevoix. It’s a longer drive than I’ve made in recent history, and I wound up flying solo for the weekend. At first I was disappointed to be alone (still am, really), but it was kind of nice to just spend five hours with no company except my own thoughts and some good music. The trees are mostly still green, and just starting to turn. Saw three deer in an open field in a residential area. Should be fantastic bonfire weather if the rain holds off. Got my hammock set up with a rain fly and sleeping bag for tonight, and 41 gallons of beer to get my friends and I (and friends I haven’t met yet) through the weekend. Prost!