Newly Updated in the Health Category! Knew you’d be interested…:-)
Third day of 15 hours or so. I’m pretty beat in general, but there’s a lull in the reporting tonight as I’ve turned in five stories already this week. It’s also been a tough three days at school. Budget cuts are hitting home and we’re losing a fine and good English teacher. Luckily, she still has a job–but she’ll be doing it at another school in the district. Often-times these past few months, the economic repercussions of a prolonged recession have hit home.
But that’s not the point of this post. Tonight, I put here for posterity another personal inventory. It’s been a while since I’ve done it, but there is much to talk about here and I felt this would be a good time to hammer out the details. The past few months have seen some pretty important milestones in all of our lives here and in my life personally. I’ve listed them below and they’re in no particular order of importance because they’re all linked and all important–to me, anyway. Warning: The following is really not of interest to you unless you know me pretty well. This is not a normal blog post for me, but it was important to me to write it.
I have for years flirted off and on with leaving the classroom. There are myriad reasons for this and it’s best not to go into them here as they’d go on too long and eventually run into a philosophical discussion about education and I don’t want to do that. Suffice to say that I am a rare teacher who both thinks that there is serious need for reform in education, who is not necessarily pro-union –but who loves the craft and is passionate about working in the classroom.
To that end, I’ve stopped flirting with leaving. While I maintain and continue to build my career as a writer, specifically in entrepreneurial journalism (more on that later), I simply don’t want to leave the classroom. Yes, it would be practically foolish to do that and yes, there are obvious reasons why after 20 years, turning my back on it now wouldn’t be wise–but that’s not why I made the decision. I made the decision because I still get joy from teaching–with all of its quirks and problems, with the inane focus on high stakes multiple choice tests, I still believe I have something to offer students by way of sharing my passions for reading, writing and story. That’s why I made the decision to stay.
When I was in high school myself, I put together a portfolio of my writing. Even back then, I was interested in words and in sharing them. I got a job writing articles for our local weekly newspaper in the San Fernando Valley and I even got to do a couple of morning news spots on a Ventura County radio station that is now defunct. I have been a writer since I can remember…
I have to be honest, though, and tell you that for so long I listened to those practical voices–that are occasionally good to heed–but often simply stifle you–and I never really imagined that I’d get as far as I have now as a writer. That changed when I was in my 30’s and I began to simply write for the sake of writing. I stumbled upon a meme that I wanted to write about and I kept at it until I finished. Then I edited it and made the changes. It was an essay called Reading, Writing and Faith and it was bit of an autobiographical jaunt through my early teaching career and how the literature I taught helped me grow into my own faith in Christ. I sold it to Christianity Today and it garnered a lot of attention. It was purchased again and I got paid again by Catholic Digest and then Christianity Today placed it into a book they produced about faith and media.
Since that time, I’ve felt I had a shot at doing this and I began to write for the local paper and other magazines. At this point, I’m as busy a freelance writer as I ever imagined I’d be and I love it. I want to continue it and while it is certainly not going to make me rich, it’s a joy for me that I sometimes have a hard time expressing in words–which would be the definition of irony, yes?
I’ve mentioned the battle of the bulge. So, allow me to update and explain some more. A few months back, I became more acutely aware that I wasn’t sleeping well. In truth, I’d known it for some time–even as far back as the late 90’s, but I was younger then and I assumed it’s because my mind was working overtime or what have you. Well, the long story short version is that it wasn’t my mind. It was my body.
I never was obese, but I had packed on the pounds since Peanut was born and I simply ignored it. I walked every day during that time and sometimes strenuously. I was in good health for the most part and so I just kind of kept my weight between 220 and 230 for that time. My maximum, I believe, was 228 pounds (though it could have been more–at the doc’s office, which is weighing you with your clothes and such, I’d weighed as much as 232).
Sue, who has asthma and other auto-immune issues, sleeps with a cpap machine because of apnea. She had heard me enough to think I might have it to0, so I went through the rigmarole of sleep tests and ear, nose and throat specialists and I was miserable the whole time. I couldn’t sleep, but I couldn’t sleep with the mask on, either and in fact, when I tried at the sleep place, I simply lay there awake until midnight when the tech came in to inform me I hadn’t fallen asleep. I wanted to ask if that was his professional opinion, but I avoided smart-alecky-ness for the most part. I gave up and drove home on a rainy Friday morning before 1:00 A.M.
Sue is a clinical dietitian and while everyone I know and his brother had offered “how to lose weight” advice, Sue’s was powerful and clear–and she’d been telling it to me for years and years–“Eat less, move more.” In other words, stop going on low carb, low fat, silliness because when you lose the weight there–it will come back when you change. I needed to change my behavior, she said. If I didn’t do that, all else would be for naught. So–that’s what I did. The one thing I did cut out nearly completely was the whole “bad snacking” category. I’m an M and M fiend and I had to put that habit away, which is not as hard as it seems. I could much on the little buggers all day long and rarely get tired of them. I replaced that habit, by the way, with hard candy–sometimes sugar free, sometimes not. But because one little sucker candy thingy lasts so long–I don’t eat that many.
Back to the ENT guy who, though friendly and nice, just didn’t jibe with me. There was no connection and I felt like he wasn’t listening to me–that some nights I sleep great, others I don’t and that I don’t always have apnea, etc. Meantime, I contacted my dentist who is a friend of mine and he brought me in and fitted me for snoreguard. That was the first change. Follow the link so I don’t have to explain it.
I started wearing that nightly and it made a huge impact. Sue says that sometimes, I’ll still be a bit noisy, but I no longer gasp and out and out snoring is reserved for nights when I have had too much salt 0r, on the rare occasion that I imbibe too much.
In conversation with my family physician, however, who is also a friend, he told me that there really is only one cure, if one exists, for sleep apnea and that’s weight loss. That’s when I got serious about the whole thing.
No diets, though, as I’ve explained before. No pre-packaged foods or any of that. I got basic and I got simple: I counted calories and I moved more. I worked out on the Internet using those BMI calculators and such how many calories I needed a day to sustain my weight and then, how much to lose. The basics were easy because for someone my size, weight loss was 2000 calories a day or less. I upped the ante by doing more cardio–twice to three times a week, an arduous 4-5 mile hike and all the other days a 2-3 mile hike. No real days off, at least none planned. I walk 6-7 days a week, rain or shine (living in Coastal California aids that commitment).
Well, the latest weigh in is telling. I weigh 207 pounds now, down from 228 at my max–and from the time I planned to lose weight, I’m down 17 pounds from around 225 or so. These things combined with the snoreguard and a more careful approach to dinnertime which means eating proper portions and limiting my alcohol intake, particularly before bedtime, has led to sleeping so well, I don’t remember the last time I was able to sleep like that. Last night is a good example. I went to bed at 11:00 P.M. and the next thing I knew, it was 2:00 A.M. I got up, did a little biz, and headed back to bed. The next thing I knew–5:30 and I dozed and lazed until 6:00 when I got up feeling refreshed and good.
I am having trouble with my feet–the walking had exacerbated some heel spurs and plantar fascitis. The pain is bad enough sometimes that walking without a limp is impossible and I will have to do something about it. But I wouldn’t trade it for the weight, I can tell you that. I’ll take my painful feet and my newer, thinner me, thanks.
My back doesn’t give me much trouble though longer hikes and walks do tend to tighten it up. My neck is more or less improved, though again, it tightens up on occasion. I’m just feeling a lot better about where I am now than where I was a year ago. I’m happy about it.
There are many other things in my life–the most important of which are my girls and our lives together, along with the dogs, of course. I miss Scoop fiercely, but as I write this, Simon is laying with his head against my hip, snoozing away and being affectionate.
Some things I cannot go into because they don’t have resolution yet and they involve more people who simply don’t want to be written about here. But here’s the thing: I wrote this because what I have proven to myself is that it is really, truly me who gets to choose how I live and what I do. It’s not circumstance, it’s how I respond to circumstance. There are bigger challenges, I know. But what counts is how we respond to those challenges.