Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lifestyle Changes

In a couple of my previous posts, I mentioned going to the doctor for heart palpitations.  For those of you needing a reminder, the palpitations were caused by caffeine, meaning that I had to give up coffee in order to get rid of the extra heartbeats.

Despite what most people seem to believe, it wasn't that difficult to remove caffeine from my diet.  Yeah, I had the withdrawal headaches, and every now and then I wake up a bit more groggy than normal and wish that I could snag a cup of joe on my way to work.  But for the most part, the adjustment has been relatively easy.  My only slip-up was having a Jack and Coke at a birthday earlier this month.  I was halfway through the drink before remembering that Coke has caffeine.  And no, I wasn't drunk when I ordered it.

Giving up caffeine brought about a second lifestyle change.  Those of you who know me realize that I enjoy beer.  I'm not an alcoholic, but I will freely admit that I have historically been a heavy drinker by medical standards.  (The CDC defines heavy drinking as two or more alcoholic beverages per day.)  When I gave up caffeine, I instantly started getting raging headaches from beer.  In fact, I've completely given up on beer. (For now.)  I have started drinking mixed drinks, which don't seem to give me the headaches, but I don't enjoy them as much, so I'm not consuming as much.

This means that, in the past year, I've given up tobacco and caffeine, and significantly reduced my alcohol consumption.  I pondered this all quite a bit, and came to the conclusion that my body is telling me that it's time to start taking care of myself.  With this in mind, I've also started exercising.

In the past, exercise and I have not had any positive, long-term relationships.  It's not inaccurate to say that I had a strong dislike for exercise.  But something seems a bit different this time.  It's not that exercise is any different... it's that I'm different.  I'm starting a bit more slowly, instead of diving into the routine; and I'm switching things up, instead of doing the same regimen every time I visit the gym.  Finally, I'm hitting the gym solo, instead of going with a friend.  This last item seems a bit counter-intuitive, but believe me, it's not.  In the past, when I'd go with a friend, it was easy to skip... if either of us would decide to skip, we'd both skip, and before you know it, we'd both quit.  This time, there's less motivation to skip, because the I'm the only one that I'm accountable to.  Additionally, since I'm by myself, it's easy to just put on some music and tune out the whole world.  with a workout buddy, you've got to focus on the other person as well... especially if you're lifting weights.

Lifting weights... that's an activity that I've never particularly enjoyed... so I'm not doing it.  What I AM doing is a varied routine of running, biking and swimming.  I choose what I'm going to do at the spur of the moment.  I supplement the cardio with push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups.  I have several goals...

-I want to run three miles in less than 30 minutes.
-I want to swim a mile, with no time limit.
-I want to be able to do at least ten pull-ups.
-I want to be able to do at least 50 sit-ups in two minutes or less
-I want to be able to do 50 push-ups
-I want to do a first-class Marine Corps PFT.

I've been at this for two to three weeks, working out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I've been taking it slow, but keeping these goals in mind.  I've already improved in every category.  I hope to achieve these goals within six months.