Hardest part of a Journey

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If you have been a previous listener to the SlenderSafari podcast show, then you know I stopped broadcasting the show back in March of 2014. I quit because my heart wasn’t into working out or eating right and therefore, my heart wasn’t into podcasting either. At least not for a weight loss show.

As summer approached, I realized I wanted to help other podcasters make their shows more public, so I created PodcastShoutout. It’s a short podcast but the only thing I do is promote other people’s shows. I don’t interview people or anything that time consuming. Since it has started, I have learned about so many different shows that I wouldn’t have otherwise searched for. It has been a fun project for sure, but it hasn’t quite taken off like I had hoped either.

I also decided to change jobs. My last job that I started in 2013 wasn’t very exciting and I needed more to do. I’m a programmer and it’s what I love to do. I finally found a good opportunity that allows me to program every day and not manage other people and not be a project manager and not be an administrator (all things that I have done in the past 7 years). Now, I research data issues and fix bugs in the code and send files to clients. The downside to this great new job though, is that it’s about 1 and 1/2 hours drive each way, on not-so-safe roads.

At the time I started my job, I also started a swimming program in a wonderful little brand new gym in the middle of nowhere (literally, in a town of 100 people) but I wasn’t getting home until 9 pm. Then I had to start dinner, eat and go to bed so I could do it all over the next day. Very exhausting.

I loved swimming too. Every day was so invigorating for me. I would jump in the pool and start my laps (almost always breast stroke, since that is my favorite stroke). The first time I only swam 30 minutes. The next week I was up to 40 minutes. By the 3rd and 4th week, I didn’t want to get out of the pool! I would swim for 50 – 60 minutes and finally decide I needed to jump in the shower so I could get home at a decent hour.

Summer was soon over and the nights were getting dark earlier on my drive home. The deer and combines were starting to appear more frequently and I made a decision to get an apartment in the city I worked in. I needed more time to do this side hustle of podcasting and blogging and the only way that was going to happen is if I wasn’t spending all my free time on the road.

In mid September I moved into my tiny 1 bedroom apartment. I setup an area for my podcasting equipment and computer and proceeded to start working more hours at my day job, to keep up with the demand of my workload. I was also very tired at the end of the day, which turned out to be my recurring thyroid issue. At first I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I would come home from work and crash for an hour or two, then get back up and make some dinner and watch a movie on Netflix before calling it a night. I was disappointed that my idea to live closer to work wasn’t helping my situation in any area, other than maybe keep me a little safer by not traveling on the country roads every late night and early morning.

Along with my thyroid slowing me down, my heart started thumping around, a lot. It’s called Premature Ventricular Contraction, or PVC for short. Basically my heart beats before it’s normal rhythmic beat. It’s so frustrating and scary and there is nothing I can do, without getting on a beta blocker (medicine). I had a similar problem in July of 2013 and since it was the first time it ever happened, I sent myself to the Emergency room. I wasn’t sure if I was having a heart attack, or what was going on! The doctor on call said it was most likely caused by caffeine, but could also be brought on by the hypothyroidism or low iron, both of which were things that I was being treated for. I reduced my caffeine to just coffee for the next several weeks, started taking iron on a regular basis and continued with my latest synthroid medication I had updated a month prior. Eventually my heart seemed to start beating normally again for quite some time.

Then this summer, after I started feeling tired all the time, my initial thought was thyroid. So I went back to my doctor and they concurred – my medication needed to be updated again. About 1 month later, my heart started thumping around. It seemed even worse than the year before. I couldn’t get much relief from it. Every single day I’d feel these strong irregular beats and I would just want to lie down and hope they would go away but at the same time, I was also wondering if would I wake up? My previous solution of cutting back on caffeine wasn’t helping. I even tried going to decaf coffee, but that didn’t help the irregular beats. I tried a new thyroid medication called ArmourThyroid, but that only made my thyroid condition worse! A month went by and I asked if I could try Naturethroid which is an all natural thyroid prescription that my cousin’s wife highly recommended. I’ve been on the medicine for 6 weeks now and I do feel much better, but my heart still beats hard and irregular, unfortunately.

Something I realized though was that my heart didn’t beat like mad if I kept my heart rate up with exercise. I noticed it beat slightly harder from time to time, but it was mild in comparison to when I was just sitting and working on my computer, or trying to sleep. I also knew that if the thyroid medication started doing it’s job, then my energy level would return and working out would be possible again.

That realization got me looking for a gym to join in my new city. I couldn’t find anything as nice or as close to my employer as to what I had before at my last job. (Back in the spring, I started working out everyday at a local gym, over my lunch hour. It was great. I was able to do a 25 minute HIIT workout and get back to work all within 1 hour.) But there are 3 YMCA’s and a YWCA all within 10 minutes from my apartment. Plus, there are several other chains in the area. I really wanted a facility with a swimming pool, but every time I checked out a pool, they were either crowded or closed. I knew that swimming wasn’t in the cards for me, in the near future. I needed to find a gym that appealed to me and go back to my weight lifting/cardio program I was following in the spring.

The downtown YMCA appealed to me the most, so I signed up and started going the last 2 weeks of October. I recorded my weights and measurements at the end of September, but procrastinated starting at the gym, so I decided just to keep that information for my records and proceed with my plans. I met with a trainer who showed me around the equipment they have and he showed me how to use the computerized program if I wanted to follow that plan, called ActivTrax. This is a very nice system, where you log in and print out your workout when you get to the gym. Then you do everything on your sheet, and when you’re done with your workout, you enter all your information (weights you lifted, number of reps, etc) back into the computer. You can check in via your phone or from your home PC as well as the PC at the gym. You just need someone to setup your account for you and help you get started with the plan that’s right for you.

In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to do the Bill Phillips program I already learned in May of 2013.  However, I humored him for the time being with the ActivTrax system. I was interested in the computer (I’m a computer geek afterall) but I know what works for me. However, something he noticed right away was my form. He kept expressing how good my form was and that he would really like to train me. He told me to come in the next week and he would give me a 1 hour workout for free.

But this was also the time of the Kansas City Royals finally getting back into the World Series since 1985.  So everyone, including me and my trainer, were more into wanting to watch them play than think about doing anything else. We finally got the 1 hour workout spread into a couple of sessions, so he ultimately gave me a 1 1/2 or 2 hour session over a couple of days. I quickly learned that in addition to be a funny person to train with, he was very encouraging and motivating. He would stand beside me and cheer me on to lift 1 more time, or finish the set I was already doing. I agreed to let him train me and we have been working together for the past month.

Since September 30, I have gone down 4″ overall and my weight has dropped 3 lbs. It’s not a lot but I haven’t changed my eating plan yet either. I’ve only been focused on working out and that didn’t start until the 2nd week of November. My first week back in the gym, before working out with my trainer, I just got on the treadmill and walked. I tried jogging a little bit, but I wasn’t very motivated. I figured if I could get my steps up to 10,000/day on my fitbit, then that would be progress from my sedentary life. The last day of that week, I went into the weight room area and did an upper body workout, only because it wasn’t very crowded.

The following week I returned and did an upper body workout, then cardio the next day and finally met up with my trainer. We agreed to a plan where I worked out with him 3 days a week, 1/2 hour each time. The first training session of the week we would do upper body, then the next time was abs and the last training session of the week was dedicated to lower body. In addition to his workouts, I decided to keep up with the cardio, but I moved back a row to the elliptical machines. Within a week, I was increasing my pace and prolonging my time.

I started off with 20 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the treadmill but now I’m up to either 50 minutes on the treadmill or 50 minutes on the elliptical. Either machine I use, I concentrate on my heart rate. I remember back a few years when a former personal trainer of mine said I needed to aim for 5 days of week of cardio at 145 bpm for 45 minutes. Bill Phillip’s plan is only 25 minutes developed around a HIIT routine – 2 minutes walk pace keeping your heart rate around 130, 2 minutes of a jog pace, around 145 – 150 and 1 minute of a run pace – up to 160 bpm. Repeat that cycle 5 times and you’re done! That was the plan I followed last year, and even earlier this year, and it worked. But I was bored. Now my plan is: I insert ear buds, crank up some dance music and go to town with keeping a consistent heart rate! I’m loving the workouts and the sweat pours off me.

I even attended a boot camp group class with my trainer. It’s held over my lunch hour, so the time constraint is challenging for my work schedule. I was amazed at how much the sweat poured off me that day! Amazing workout! I’m glad I tried it and completed it but for now, I think I will stick to the treadmill and elliptical machines for my cardio.

My next challenge will be with food. Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is almost a month away, so I have time to focus on good eating habits for the next few weeks. I’ve seen good results with old friends who have stayed away from sugar and flour products and focus more on protein and good healthy carbs like vegetables and fruits. I already eat better breakfasts (veggie omelets and sometimes omelets with ham) but occasionally I will throw a cinnamon roll into the mix, which isn’t so healthy. I usually eat wraps at lunch with chicken or turkey but even those aren’t the healthiest of meals. If I was following the Bill Phillips plan, then I would be eating 6 meals a day. Every time I think I will do that, my workday gets so crazy I don’t have time to stop and grab my food I brought into work. So the best I can do for now is just eat better meals the 3 times of day I do eat.

The other thing I started doing since this summer, is take vitamins. I take fish oil, a B-Complex, Potassium, B-12, Osteo-Flex for arthiritis, a Pro-Biotic and sometimes if I remember, I will take a multi-vitamin (I can’t take it with the rest of vitamins because I take them in the morning about 30 minutes after I take my thyroid medicine and the Multi-vitamin has soy in it so I need to wait a few hours after taking my thyroid medicine so it can absorb properly).

This combination has helped my finger nails grow stronger than they’ve ever been, my arthritis is held at bay and my sweet tooth has diminished, a lot! I think the probiotic has been a big help for that. I don’t crave cupcakes or cookies anymore, though I may still eat them, I don’t “pig out” on them.

This has been my year in 2014. I’ve been busy with many things and now I’m focused on my health once again. I just had my yearly doctors appointment yesterday so that will be another blog post I will share.  I have lots of good tidbits of info she shared with me.

Have you had success this year with your weight loss? What have you found to be working for you? Please share your comments below and let me know what worked for you!