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A Better Me

After it became apparent that I would most likely never find a good job using my art history degree, I went back to school to become a massage therapist.  But after several years of building my career, I had to give it up due to carpal tunnel-related issues.  I took on a series of bartending, DJing, and desk jobs in order to pay my bills, which switched me to a mostly sedentary lifestyle.  Since I was no longer going to the gym--or working my muscles by pummeling my clients--I began to lose muscle mass and pack on the fat.  

At my heaviest in 2008:

In 2009 I decided to go back to school to become a science teacher.  I was required to take a physical before I was allowed to work in the schools as a student teacher.  That's when I found out just how unhealthy I was:  I was diagnosed with severe hypertension and had packed on 70lbs of fat and at least another 10 in water retention.  Going up a flight of stairs while wearing a backpack fairly winded me and picking up my 55lb dog was a chore.  How could I possibly be an effective teacher if I couldn't physically keep up with my students?  I knew I had to make some serious lifestyle changes.

Starting in September 2009, I began taking steps to make my life better.  Besides taking blood pressure meds to help with edema, I stopped smoking for good in March 2010 (I had picked the habit back up when I started tending bar), as well as cut out almost all alcohol (just an occasional glass or of wine or foofy cocktail).  I also changed eating habits and switched to the South Beach diet.  I started walking or biking instead of driving.  I finally joined a gym in May 2012 and have slowly increased my days of exercise a week to 5-6.  In the past three years I have dropped 50lbs and lowered my blood pressure from a distressing 160/110 to an acceptable 130/85.

50lbs lighter in September 2012:

This past December I started to change the way I work out to include more weights and less cardio.  I want to get stronger.  Sure the pounds will come off faster with intense cardio, but I'll be losing muscle in the bargain.  I'd still like to lose 30 more pounds of fat, but I'm more focused on how I feel and the numbers on the measuring tape.  I've lost 3/4ths of an inch from my waist and hips this month, so I think I'm on the right track.

Goals for 2013:

  • Lose at least 30lbs of fat
  • Gain part of that weight back as muscle
  • Learn how to properly use free weights (ordered NROLFW and will schedule time w/trainer)
  • Steadily increase the amount of weight I can lift (tracking on fitocracy)
  • Keep cardio to no more than 120 minutes per week (tracking on fitocracy)
  • Follow YAYOG on days I can’t get to the gym
  • Reduce overall body fat by ~5%
  • Pay more attention to the tape measure rather than the scale (using myfitnesspal to track)
  • Average 1600 net calories a day until I reach my target size (myfitnesspal)
  • Have an average ratio of 40% carbs/35% lean protein/25% healthy fats (myfitnesspal)

Goals for life:

  • Use my new tools and skills to periodically re-evaluate my fitness and health goals to assess what is working and what is not.

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