Getting It Done in the Heat

It was 96 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I ran.

I’ve been asked why I run outside when it’s so hot, and why I don’t run on my treadmill indoors during the heat. It’s because I need to make sure my body is prepared and able to run during the worst conditions at all times. As a member of the military, I won’t get the privilege of dictating my environmental conditions during exercise or operations (combat or otherwise). If I can exercise in the worst of conditions, then operating in any condition not as severe will be much easier for me.

It was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit here. There is no time off for heat.

I don’t over-hydrate before runs, either. I never have. Why? Same reason; my body is accustomed to running at my normal hydration levels (and I admittedly stay well-hydrated throughout the day). If I run for anything more than an hour, then I’ll definitely drink before a run, and I’ll drink water with DropDrop ORS in it to replenish electrolytes and other nutrients, but for a normal workout? One half of a banana before exercise followed by another half of a banana is all I really need.

I must stress that when I run in the heat, I dial back the intensity. The hotter it is, the more I dial it back. My goal becomes completing the distance, not making a pace or time. When it cools down (under 83 degrees or so), I push myself harder because my body is able to utilize sweating to cool down enough, but otherwise, if it’s really hot out, I literally just take it easy and pay attention to any warning signs that may appear (no longer sweating, feeling dizzy, headache). If any of those symptoms come up (and they haven’t yet), then I will stop and seek shade, water, and assistance.

I also only run on the “Track” around the lake in front of my house when it’s very hot out. That way, if I need help for any reason, I’m no more than 100 yards from my home at any time. It’s also a very visible area, so if I were to go down, I’d be seen pretty quickly.

Another thing I do is run with LiveTrack on my Garmin Forerunner 945 watch. This watch sends out a beacon to my wife, daughter, and son and let’s them know I’m exercising, and provides them with a link to actually watch my progress as I run. If the device detects that I’ve fallen, my heart rate become erratic, or that I’ve stopped quickly with no further input, it notifies them and tells them there’s a problem.

I have found in the past that running in the extreme heat, while not very fun or comfortable, has prepared me well for cooler weather. Since I am needing to be ready for the ACFT in October, I don’t have the luxury of taking time off during the hottest times. “Then why don’t you use the treadmill in the A/C?” For a few reasons.

First, I vary my pace. Everyone does, actually, when running outdoors. I prefer being able to adjust my pace on the fly without needing to push buttons and trying to match a pace with how well I feel. I find that when building speed and stamina, it’s much more important that I can push my pace here and there naturally when my body feels like it’s up for it versus running a single pace for a long time. My treadmill is smart and has some workouts built in, but they’re not organic. I base my running pace and effort on how I feel. If I am energetic, I will push it. If I’m tired, I can dial it back.

Second, I have a hard time focusing and staying motivated to complete runs on the treadmill. I’ve watched movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, and music videos while I ran to try to keep me distracted long enough to complete a run, but my mind doesn’t accept it. It becomes drudgery, and I end up lowering the pace just to get through it and I don’t get as good of a workout with it.

So, running in the heat, it is. The kicker is that my runs follow a weightlifting session in my gym, so every time I go out and run, it means I’ve already completed my weightlifting and pull-ups/sit-ups/push-ups.

I never planned for my workouts to be structured this way, but when I tried to lift weights and run on alternating days, I found my muscles didn’t have a chance to recover (since every day is leg day for me). When I combined the weightlifting and the run days and allowed for recovery days in between, my progress became much better and I experienced far less fatigue and pain in my muscles. It turned out to be fortuitous: the Army Combat Fitness Test is a 6-event test that combines strength and cardio. My fitness plan actually compliments this well.

As a Warrant Officer, I have to be ready at all times for any job they give me.

So, when you see me running in the heat, know that I’m being safe, and that there are many good reasons for it. I take my job as a Soldier in the Army National Guard very seriously, and I feel that I need to be as prepared as I can be physically and mentally. Running in the heat helps me stay prepared and ensures that I can be relied upon to accomplish any task put before me.

PaleoMarine’s Fitness Plan

So, there I was…

I had lost 130 lbs over the course of a year, but when I looked in the mirror, I saw a much thinner version of me, but also a much softer version of me than I remembered. I had no muscles and even my face was still puffy and round. I had come to the realization that I needed to do something besides just eating right. I had to start exercising.

I had lost a lot of weight here, but still didn’t lose the beard.

I was 49 years old, and I knew that I couldn’t count on my body to be as resilient as it was in my 20’s and 30’s. I did a lot of reading and discovered that the key to healthy and meaningful progress was recovery time. For each day of exercise, there needed to be a recovery day.

I incorporated this into my fitness plan, and I set out to get fit. I didn’t expect to get great results, but I did. I didn’t expect it to be relatively painless, but it was. I didn’t expect to improve my fitness dramatically within three months, but I did.

The PaleoMarine Fitness Plan

This is what I did to go from unfit to fit in three months. This is the plan I used to go from barely being able to do 3 push-ups to 100 in two minutes within three months. This is the plan I used to go from walking for 30 minutes to running 3 miles in 24 minutes.

Not my fastest, but this was making great progress.

The first element of my plan is to go slow but stay consistent. This is key. Many fitness plans have you push “110%” and give max effort. When you’re young, or if you’re already in good shape, this isn’t so much a problem, but when you’re over 40 or 50 and starting out? This could spell disaster and derail you before you even got going.

I started with push-ups. I did as many as I could until my arms STARTED feeling strain. You will know the difference between a push-up that feels comfortable and one that requires strain. This goes against what a lot of “Gym rats” will recommend, but trust me; it works. I started with 3 push-ups. Then, I waited a day, and did another set of push-ups. That second time, I was able to do 5. I stayed at 5 for the next two times until I was able to do 7. Then 10. Then 15. My push-up count started ramping very quickly until I reached the 50’s. Then, I hit a bit of a wall until I got to 70’s and then ramped quickly again. Eventually, I was doing over 100 in two minutes.

After a month of doing push-ups, I started walking briskly for 30 minutes. That brisk walk turned into a slow jog which transitioned into a fast jog/slow run. Eventually, I was running sub-8 minute miles, and I was no longer running to increase my pace but to increase the distance ran within that 30 minutes. After some time, even 30 minutes wasn’t enough, and my runs would last in excess of 45 minutes.

After a year of running and push-ups, I added weightlifting, specifically the StrongLifts 5×5 program. It’s geared towards people getting into weightlifting for functional strength. It’s not a body-building program. This program makes you stronger so you can handle life’s challenges more easily. This is exactly what I wanted, and I made amazing progress on this program.

I had to stop a few times due to injuries, but each time, when I got back into my fitness plan, I did it slowly, and I did it consistently. I made sure I got enough sleep, and I got rest-days.

The Nuts and Bolts

Here’s what a normal week looks like for me:

Monday: StrongLifts 5×5 (A), pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and a run (right now, that’s 2 miles)

Tuesday: Official rest day, but I usually go mountain biking for about 40-45 minutes

Wednesday: StrongLifts 5×5 (B), pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and a run

Thursday: Official rest day, but like Tuesday, I try to get out on the mountain bike.

Friday: StrongLifts 5×5 (A), pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and a run

Saturday/Sunday: Rest days, but I try to get out on the mountain bike, the kayak, or go for a hike.

I love my pink Con’s.

Let’s talk about the pull-ups. When I started, I couldn’t do a single one. I bought some assistance bands on Amazon and started using those. I eventually was able to work up to 7 non-assisted pull-ups before my surgery. Now, I’m back to not being able to do any, but I’ve gone from 3 assisted to 7 assisted in a week. I will keep working at them until I’m at 10 un-assisted pull-ups. That’s my goal. I usually start off my workout sessions with the pull-ups

Sit-ups: I always had difficulty doing these when my stomach muscles were split. My surgery involved sewing my stomach muscles back together, and now I’m able to do sit-ups much more easily. Having the muscles work together as designed has made a huge difference. I started with 50 last week and I’m up to 75 right now. I typically do 10-15 between my squats during the StrongLifts 5×5 sessions.

Barbell curls: these are something I added to my workout for no other reason than to bulk my biceps up a little bit. It doesn’t matter how strong I get, my biceps weren’t looking that great, so I started doing barbell curls about a year ago and it’s made a big difference in how my arms look. I’m not looking to bulk up, but I did want them to look a little better.

Push-ups: I used to do a rather sloppy version of push-ups when I began five years ago, but now I do the Army regulation push-up which is a very tight to the body stance where the hands are directly under the shoulders. These push-ups are harder and I likely won’t be able to do as many of them as I did with the old sloppy versions, but my goal here is to hit 50-60 in two minutes.

Sleep: this is super important. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep before your workout days. Sleep impacts our energy levels during workouts immensely. Another tip I learned from one of my TAC Officers at WOCS was to eat half of a banana before a workout and eat the other half afterwards. This has gone a long way towards giving me more energy during the workouts and also helps the body recover afterward.

The bottom line

You can do it!

Will this plan work for you? Maybe. It worked for me, and honestly, that’s all I can attest to. Some people think it’s not working hard enough. If you feel that way, then add exercises or exercise on what I call rest days. Otherwise, this plan allowed me to get fit without pain, and pain is what discourages people from adopting new fitness plans. I made steady progress, and I went from being unfit to fit in three months, without excessive muscle pain. Was I sore? Sure, but there’s a big difference between pain and soreness. Soreness lets you know you worked out; pain is a problem that could need attention or a cessation of physical activity.

So, your mileage may vary, but this worked great for me. Let me know if you have any questions!

Feeling More and More Like Me

I might not look too happy in this picture, but I was “In the zone,” so to speak.

My fitness re-boot has been going a little slower than I’d hoped in the beginning, but if yesterday’s workout is any indication of how things will be going, then I’m really excited. I started with my StrongLifts 5×5 workout with 75 sit-ups (total) done between my squats and 7 assisted pull-ups (up from only 4 on Friday). I also did some barbell curls during and after the workout.

Holy smokes it was hot out there! But I got it done, and I didn’t die!

I then went out and ran 2 miles in the 95-degree heat. It wasn’t nearly as hard as it was on Friday, and that made me feel great. There was one point during the run where I actually felt okay. Not great, and nowhere near a “Runner’s High,” but I felt good. My first mile pace was also the fastest since my surgery, and my overall two-mile time was also the fastest.

What gave me the most hope, however, is how I felt afterward: I felt good. My limbs had that “Recently worked out” feeling to them, but I wasn’t in pain. More importantly, when I woke up this morning, I felt decent. Again, I still had the post-workout soreness, but nothing more.

That bodes well for the rest of the next three months as I prepare for Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) in October. I need to be able to participate in daily PT, and I need to be at a decent level of fitness to not embarrass myself. Now, I’m confident I’ll get there.

Tomorrow, I will outline my fitness plan in detail. It’s something I developed through trial and error, and it’s a plan designed primarily for people over 50 (but truthfully, I think it’ll work for anyone and will even give better results for younger people). It’s been proven to work for me three times, and now on my fourth time, I’m seeing the same results already only three weeks in.

I Got Started, But Not The Finish I Wanted

As planned, I hit my gym and began my workout with some pull-ups. I found that I could no longer do even one without pain in my upper abdomen, so I pulled out some assistance straps. I selected the largest one and with that, I was able to do 4. That left me a little discouraged, but as Sherry keeps pointing out, I had major surgery that sewed my core back together, so I need to be patient.

Next, I moved on to squats. The first few sets went well, and I was feeling good, but I was using an app that helps me keep track of my workouts, and it recommended a weight that was way too much for me. I thought, “Well, the app knows what I’m supposed to do, so I’ll follow it.” For my 4th set, the weight went up to 110 lbs which, in the past, was chump change. Yesterday? I completed the 3-rep set, but when I put the bar down, my legs were shaking. I didn’t push too far, but if I kept it up, my legs would be trash. I had to stop.

I contemplated completing the rest of the lifts, but I decided against it. My core and legs were wiped out, and a run was now completely out of the question. Could I have done it? Probably. Could I have injured myself on that run? Quite likely.

I’m still re-starting my exercise plan, and I have the luxury of taking it slow. I’m listening to my body more than ever, and I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself. While I was angry that I let an app tell me how much to lift (I’ve fixed that), I was angrier at myself that I didn’t question the weight increase.

I have reset the app completely, and my weights for lifting tomorrow will be where I need/want them to be: light. After my weightlifting, I’ll go out for a 2+ mile run. If I feel good, I’ll go for the “Plus;” otherwise, I’ll stop at 2. I’m not wanting to overdo it.

When I first started my exercise and fitness plan six years ago, I got into it slowly. Even with that slow start, within three months, I was doing really well; running fast, doing 120 push-ups within two minutes, and I generally felt great. Once I added weightlifting, I got much stronger, and daily tasks became much easier. I’m hoping for the same results with the same plan: start slow, have good rest periods between workouts, and continue deliberate progress.

So, while it didn’t go as planned, it at least got started. That is always the hardest part, and now, I have momentum. I am actually looking forward to tomorrow’s workout which is, in and of itself, a great victory.

Tightening Screws is Always Hardest

Sherry and me in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

It has become readily apparent to me that it’s time to buckle down, tighten the screws, and get back to eating healthy and exercising without anymore excuses. I’ve allowed far too much alcohol into my diet as well as making sketchy food decisions while drinking.

It’s not that I drink a lot. I honestly don’t. But this summer has had many occasions that socially led me to imbibe alcoholic beverages, and when I’m drinking, my self-control slides away and I find myself eating in a way that is not conducive to my best health. It’s not that I go completely off the rails (except sometimes), but I tend to over-eat. Even healthy foods in large amounts results in too many calories.

So, starting today, I’m back to my very strict Paleo diet. If it’s not compliant, it’s not going in my mouth, and that includes alcohol. I’m also sticking to the healthy portion sizes and not going for seconds. It’s going to be tough for the next few days as my body has to get used to the reduced calorie intake, but it’s become necessary.

I’m also starting my 6-day/week exercise plan. Don’t worry; I’m not going, “All out.” I’m still being very careful and slow with my progress, but I am increasing the number of days I’m committing to the exercise.

I’ve had to resort to the “Fake it ‘til you make it” mindset when it comes to my running and weightlifting. I keep repeating to myself throughout the day, “I get to run. I get to lift weights!” in a positive manner. It’s kind of funny. Even though I know I’m not all-in on feeling motivated, repeating it over and over actually has an effect, and I do find myself more motivated and excited to get started. Attitude is so important.

I am searching for something to do in addition to StrongLifts 5×5 and my running. I’m not sure yet what that will be, but I feel like it’s just not enough. I do ride my mountain bike on the “Off” days from lifting, and I don’t want to add anything for those days, but on my “On” days, I feel like I need more. I’ll continue to investigate the options and I’ll report back here when I find something.

I haven’t weighed myself yet. I’m not sure I’m going to, to be honest. While the scale is the easiest measure of our overall health, I’m going to forego that. I, instead, will be focusing on how my clothes fit, how I look, how I feel, and how fit I am. I’m less concerned with a number and more concerned with the holistic approach to my health: the sum of all the different measures. The scale has a lot of power over how we feel, and I honestly want to avoid that this time. I’m not sure how it’s going to work out, but time will tell. I’m optimistic that this is a good approach.

I will be going on active duty in the military starting in October, and I need to be in good shape by then both physically and in terms of my fitness levels. I have very specific goals to reach, and I’m going to do my best to reach them without sabotage. So, while to some, what I’m starting today may seem very strict and restrictive is actually a path toward liberation and freedom. Liberating myself from a lack of good fitness right now, and freedom to do whatever I want physically without restraint.

I get to run. I get to lift weights.

Recovery and Exercise

I have to admit that my recovery has been going well, although a little slower than I expected. Well, let me rephrase that; it’s going slower than I planned for. As for what I really expected? Well, I didn’t expect anything. I hoped and assumed, but didn’t necessarily have any expectations.

When I was in that six-week period of no exercise, I found myself getting upset more easily, feeling grouchy, feeling out of sorts, and feeling myself get pudgy and soft. I watched my arms get thinner, and my legs getting more tired after mundane activities; all things that I worked hard to fight against. Mentally, it was tough (and I posted about that aspect here quite often, as it was a struggle I had to deal with). Once I was given the green light to resume exercise, I was elated. But, my doctor was quick to point out that I needed to take it slow and easy.

I initially set out a rather aggressive reintroduction to exercise that I believed was going to be a gradual progression back to where I was. What I failed to take into consideration, however, was that I needed to listen to my body and take it from there. Any plans I made had to be flexible.

What ended up happening was that I have been running far less than I initially planned for. What was supposed to be a run day/rest day cycle turned out to be 1 run day followed by 3 rest days. Then, a run day followed by 2 rest days. Another run, and then another 2 days of rest. So, in the past 10 days, I only ran three times. While that sounds really bad, in actuality, it’s been necessary. I felt so much pain after that first run that I needed those 3 days to let my muscles feel better. Then, the following two runs had 2 day rest periods which turned out to not only be necessary, but actually helped me make increases in both speed and stamina. The last run I had (yesterday) felt amazing, went well, and I increased my pace and the distance ran.

My next run is scheduled for this weekend. I don’t know whether it’ll be Friday or Saturday, but I’m not pushing it. Well, not yet. I know that the time is quickly coming for me to start really pushing myself toward being able to take the ACFT again (for the third time), but for now, it’s all about getting back to a base level of fitness that will be the foundation upon which I can build. That also means I’ll start my weightlifting next week which is a week later than I had planned for. At first, I felt bad about that, but now, I’ve accepted and understand the importance of listening to my body. I wasn’t ready this week, and you know, maybe on Monday, my body will tell me to take it easy, but then again, it might say, “Let’s do this!” in which case, I’ll be ready.

Recovery is tricky as it’s different for everyone. I know people who have had the same procedure I had and they were back to exercising three weeks after their surgery. They’re also much younger than me and they may not have had the same amount of work done internally as I had. But for me, recovery has been a long process that I understand can’t be cheated, shorted, or quickened. It has to be ridden out, and it has to be respected. I’ve hurt myself in the past trying to do too much too soon. I won’t make that mistake again.

First Truly Comfortable Run Since my Surgery

Me after my run and cool-down walk.

This morning at 5:30 a.m., the alarm went off for me to wake up for my run. I really didn’t want to do it; the bed was comfy, it was warm, and it just felt nice to lay in bed. But, I have set Alexa to tell me the weather when I stop the alarm, and something she said stirred me; “The temperature is 71 degrees. Expect thunderstorms and a high temperature of 89 degrees with a low of 71.” I knew what this meant; 71 was the coolest it was going to be all day.

I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get a nice, cool run in. Especially here in Texas where it gets very hot in July, taking advantage of cool mornings is not something you take lightly. I pulled myself up and out of bed and got dressed. I stepped outside and felt the cool, albeit humid air, and smiled. “This run is going to be perfect,” I thought to myself.

As soon as my GPS watch was synchronized with the satellites, I took off for my run. I’ve been running a 2-mile course during my recovery and rebuilding period, and I set out for that same course with a goal of being a little faster than the last three runs. With that said, I didn’t really push myself hard. It’s not time for me to do that yet. But I did make sure that I was moving well.

When I hit the half-way point, I found that I’d cut over a minute off my previous one-mile time. That felt great! I knew my second mile would be slower, but that didn’t deter or dissuade me from continuing with a comfortable pace, pushing only as far as to run within my comfort zone. I also decided that I was feeling amazing, and that adding a little bit of distance would be a good thing. My goal is to run 4 miles per run, so adding a little distance every few runs is part of my long-term plan. I added a quarter of a mile, and when I finished, I found that I’d cut two minutes off my two-mile time.

I did my quarter-mile cool-down walk, and when I got in the house for my shower, I found that I felt great. No muscle pain, not winded, and generally mentally sharp and ready for my day.

As I look back on the series of events that took place this morning, it’s funny to me that there was a moment when I almost stayed in bed and skipped this run. I’m glad that I didn’t.

Mentally, I’ve been struggling with motivation. I’ve allowed myself to talk myself out of runs lately, and I found it’s because I’ve had an aversion to adding to the pain my body is in. I decided to go back to an old trick I used when I first started running; I tell myself repeatedly throughout the day whenever I think about running and start feeling any kind of dread that I am fortunate that I can still run; I get to run.

I get to run.

In other words, I am not only able to run, but I’m healthy enough to be able to run. I’m physically fit enough to run. I’m not injured, and I’m not disabled. I’m not wounded and I’m not dead.

I get to run.

So I run. After I repeat this to myself over and over throughout the day, I find that it changes my mindset and when the time comes to make the decision to run or not run, I am far more likely to decide to run. The decision is easier, and it even affects my attitude and performance throughout my run.

Our mindset is the most important ingredient to our success. We become what we believe, and what we think. If we think we can’t do something, the chances of us being able to do it are decreased.

If you want to make a serious change in your life or just get back to some good habits, start telling yourself that you can do it, that it’s a good thing, and that you get to do it. There are many out there who don’t have that ability or luxury, and you should treasure it.

Cleared for Exercise: Morning Run Complete!

Me after my first run in eight weeks.

This past Friday, I had my six-week post-op appointment with my doctor, and she said that I’m healing up very nicely and she cleared me for getting back to my fitness routine. She advised me to start slow and to take it easy, and I’m going to heed her advice.

I started with getting back to my fitness plan by doing a slow 2-mile run this morning. I started off easily and picked up the pace until I was comfortable; not too fast, not too slow, and breathing was easy. I have to admit that when I hit the first mile, I was pleasantly surprised that I was at a respectable “Formation run” pace. I continued on to the second and final mile finishing with 22:54, which is slow, but considering it’s the first time I ran in eight weeks, I’ll take it.

What surprised me the most was that I wasn’t completely worn out, that it didn’t feel like I was running in quicksand, and after the run, my legs weren’t sore. I made sure to walk for about 10 minutes afterwards to let my muscles cool-down properly, but as I sit here now writing this, I don’t feel like I ran at all this morning (like I normally do after a run).

I didn’t hit the weights after my run because I didn’t want to push things. I will likely start hitting the weights next Monday. Tomorrow, I’ll ride my mountain bike for about 40-45 minutes, and then alternate between running and bike riding until next Monday when I’ll add weights into the mix.

I’m going to go back to StrongLifts 5×5, and I’m going to set the default progression to the recommended settings. I will be starting lighter than recommended, as I want to make sure my form is perfect before I start adding some serious weight back in. I want to do all I can to avoid injury or muscle strain.

I didn’t weigh myself this morning, but I know that after the eight weeks of not exercising coupled with this past weekend’s indulgances (it was my birthday yesterday and the holiday weekend), I’m definitely swollen with some water weight. I’ll likely weigh myself on Friday and begin tracking my weight again then. It’s not my primary focus, however; getting fit and strong is.

My doctor told me that I wasn’t going to be as weak as I feared I would be, and she was right. I am relieved that I was able to run for that solid two miles, and I’ll be steadily increasing my distance to 3.5-4 miles before I start working on my pace.

As for how my scar is looking, it’s also healing nicely. I was advised to massage harder on the sides where the liposuction took place as well as on the incision scar itself, which I’ve been doing. My stomach muscle isn’t feeling as tight since I’ve started doing that, and each day, I continue to feel better and better. I still have the numbness on my skin on my abdomen, but from what I understand, that may be like that forever.

It’s not about the weight you lose; it’s about the life you gain

Sherry and I on one of our recent mountain biking excursions (in a light drizzle).

I saw this phrase posted online this morning, and it really resonated with me. I was obsessed with losing weight for the first two years of my healthy living journey, and I eventually replaced that with just being healthy and fit. I stopped caring so much about my weight (within reason), and focused on the non-scale victories: my faster run times, my increased amounts of weights lifted, the fun factor of kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. But every now and then, my brain comes back to those numbers on the scale.

I wish I weighed this again… but weightlifting builds muscle, and I will likely not see this weight again (and I’m okay with that).

I need to remind myself to look back to the days when I weighed over 328 lbs. What was life like back then? When I would get winded walking up one flight of stairs (and why I limited my trips upstairs in my own house because of the discomfort). When I would do almost anything to get out of household projects because of the physical pain it would cause me for days afterward. When I would prefer to sit indoors on a beautiful day rather than to go outside and explore and enjoy the day. When I would scoff at the idea of doing anything physical for fun.

Looking at this photo reminds me of how hard life was being morbidly obese. It motivates me to stick with my healthy lifestyle.

Unknown to me at the time, when I decided to eat healthy and lose weight, I also decided to live a fuller, more active life. Since losing weight, I’ve become engaged with the outside world. My wife and I have been able to enjoy activities I couldn’t even imagine: the aforementioned hiking, running together, kayaking, mountain biking, and weekend getaways where we explore. The biggest surprise was that I was able to get back into the military, and recently, I became a Warrant Officer. I gained a life that was better than anything I could imagine before.

Being presented with my Officer’s Sword after being promoted to Warrant Officer; an accomplishment that I would have never imagined had I not changed my life and adopted a healthy and fit lifestyle.

Non-scale victories come in many varieties, but don’t forget to consider the greatest non-scale victory of them all; the life you gain. It will be more fulfilling and engaged than the one you leave behind.

This is the week!!!

I love this Birdwell cardigan I got for Christmas. I used to wear these in my surfing days in SoCal.

I’m both excited and scared. This Friday, I will see my doctor for my six-week post-op appointment and will find out if I can take the binder off and if I can start my exercise program back up. I’m excited because I really want to get back to it and start preparing myself physically for Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) this fall. I also found that I need exercise to help keep me calm and even-keeled. But, I’m also scared, because I know that I have a tendency to push too hard; to make myself workout harder than I probably should. I’m scared I’ll injure myself, or that I’ll somehow tear something inside where the surgery was.

The biggest quality of life improvement will be getting to finally take the binder off. I know it was necessary, and I also know that I’ll probably still wear it from time to time (I’m buying one for running, in fact), but it’s annoyingly uncomfortable. My skin is incessantly itchy, regardless of the amount of lotion I put on it.

I am not as afraid of showers anymore. For the longest time, I had an illogical fear of taking showers because I worried that the incision line would open up. I know this wasn’t a possibility after the first week (if at all, frankly), but I still had that irrational fear for quite a while. That’s finally gone, which is good.

As for my exercise plan, I will focus on running for time first; 30 minutes. I will not push for great distances or anything; just 30 minutes. Once I hit a good, solid pace in 30 minutes, then I’ll work on increasing the distance during that 30 minutes. Once I get to about 3.5 miles, I’ll work on getting the time down for that distance. That’s what I did when I first started running, and I was able to make some amazing progress back then. This time, I’m not quite starting from zero, although I am starting with post-operative healing to take into consideration.

I’m also going to re-start my weightlifting, but again, I’m going to start at the bare bar. It’s going to feel dumb and awkward, but I need to focus more on form than anything. I need to make sure, for the sake of my core muscles, that I’m doing everything perfect to keep from injuring myself. I should be able to be at a decent level of weightlifting by October, in time for WOBC.

The schedule I’ll be using will be as follows:

  • Weightlifting (StrongLifts 5×5) followed by 30 minute run
  • Mountain biking for 45 minutes
  • Weightlifting (StrongLifts 5×5) followed by 30 minute run
  • Mountain biking for 45 minutes
  • Weightlifting (StrongLifts 5×5) followed by 30 minute run
  • Light physical activity
  • Rest day

The mountain biking allows me to have some cardio without too much exertion. I don’t push myself too hard on the mountain bike, and since it’s a bike, I can coast, go slow, etc, but it still keeps me moving.

So, this is hopefully the last week without exercise and in the binder. I can’t believe I’m “That guy” who complains about not being able to exercise, but I feel myself getting weaker and it bothers me. I need the meditative quality of exercise; it’s a time of the day that belongs only to me, and there’s something really powerful about that. Oh, and it’s good for me, too.