By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
May 15, 2016
Well that dreaded time of year is upon us in Arizona. You see, we have no real sense of weather in this state, for if you live in certain parts, it is always “heat.” Unless you are one of those unique souls that lives in Flagstaff or something you rarely have to whip out cold weather clothing to the tune of a heavy jacket. In fact, one friend of mine barely even owns a hoodie or two to combat the sometimes cold weather we have in this state. For the most part, we don’t have full blown seasons. We have hot and slightly hot, which slightly hot falls during that three or four month reprieve during the winter time where the days will only get up to 70 degrees. Now it is not easy trying to explain this to people that have never been out here, especially those who come hot humid states and think the dry heat will be a breeze. They are still used to the leaves turning brown and some cold sleet or some windchill, along with some spring breezes and dew covered mornings. We just don’t get that! I’m serious, during an Arizona spring, the only thing we do is count the days until we hit 100 degrees. We often times hold these “Ice Breaker” contests in multiple forms. Heck, my old job used to do this, and they had boards in the main lobby area where many people could put their two cents in. One of the local news stations used to offer huge prices for the people that got the closest to the moment, including time! One year, the winner was determined by only a few minutes! This spring has been pretty nice so far, for we have had a great many days where the nights are timid and windy, providing some much needed relief for anyone who is dying in this unusually warm weather. Saturday was no different in the rising temperature gauge, for I decided to help out my father with some roof work at the Southwest Community Center, which is a little place that holds events and give food to the needy every day. It was barely 10:30 in the morning when the heat really started hitting me. Fortunately, the work I needed to help my father with was done and didn’t have to worry too much after that. Initially I was thinking of helping him in the afternoon…good thing I didn’t.
Anyway, as the weather starts getting warmer, this is the time of the year when people start wearing less clothes. Now some just don’t give a damn, and they may be extremely overweight walking around in short shorts and a muscle t-shirt. Those people are pretty rare in Arizona, especially since most of the state is in relatively good health and most people are not too heavy (except Tucson that is…a lot of obesity and diabetes in this town!). This is the time of the year you will see random guys running around Reid Park with no shirt on, random walkers sauntering around with no shirt on (so they don’t get their 50-dollar t-shirt sweaty) and women openly walking around with skimpy sports bras. Yup, it is the wild west out here, and I typically have no business even participating in the endeavor. For me, I’m still not that in shape looking, so to walk around without a shirt would mean a lot of jiggling and blinding light from the untanned skin on my body. But enough with the self deprecation. I just don’t feel confident enough to do something like that, which is why I have very distinct tan lines on my body, and if I really wanted even them evened out, I might have to go to a tanning place (which ironically, Arizona has an abundance of). So this is the conundrum a great many of us start feeling as we wander headlong into “official summer,” or the next 120 some odd days that are close to 100 degrees or so. Ultimately, a lot of people really start pumping the iron and getting themselves ready for the long days of sunshine and heat. Starvation diets are on the rise, along with powder shake diets and supplement use as we approach the so called “beach season.” Last year I kind of laughed at this silly notion, but this year it feels a little different to me. Call it vanity or whatever, but for once I really want to try and be more beach friendly…even if I haven’t been to an actual beach in some 23 years. Well, this past week I have not really put a dent into that feeling, but I suppose next week will be much better for me as I get back into my running and start recovering from the residual injury I was getting from the New Balance shoes I bought from Ross (seriously, I was just using them for work on Saturday, thinking some light usage wouldn’t hurt, my ankle and calf were dying after just a couple hours of usage….time to donate those good for nothing shoes!).
Already, I am struggling with just about every conceivable aspect of weight loss, which has been the gaudy subject of my last couple blog posts. But in order to stop the downer parade, I have to be more proactive and start thinking about tackling the problem. Right now, I have been thinking of utilizing a high protein-low carb kind of diet that would sort of replace a lot of complex carbs with carbs you might find in beans and other legumes (in addition to the fiber and protein). It sounds like a good idea, for my protein numbers have been pretty solid lately as I have implemented more beans and oatmeal into my diet. Yes, I am trying to build my arms a little more in the process, but I am also trying to keep my donation streak going at the local plasma donation place, which also allows me to see just how poorly calibrated their machines are in regards to my weight and see how high my protein levels are (usually I am at 6.5 or so, so I am not insanely high, but the weight machines need some real work down there, for they have me sometimes at 235 all the way to 252…yeesh). One good note is the fact my blood pressure has been doing pretty well lately. My best number so far was 117 over 72, and yesterday I stood at 124 over 78. So yes, even though I am getting pricked with needles and the smell of a clinic is in my nose (which always makes me lose my mind), my blood pressure is at an all time best. A lot of this calm probably has to do with the fact I am not working my old job anymore, which was nothing but a stress pit for me. I mean, I was typically showing up with numbers in the 130s and 80s. And while I certainly feel a little weird about my body weight and such, not having to go to my old job may be beneficial for me. http://www.bustle.com/articles/160637-how-working-in-an-unfair-office-affects-your-health-according-to-studies
Now this study really presented no hard facts, but here was the first item of business that kind of lays down some real truth…people felt better when they felt their job treated them better. Not in a way where the bosses sucked up to them or overpaid them, but when people received the sort of reward through benefits and monetary assessment, they certainly felt better about life and felt healthier in their day-to-day load. I can certainly attest to this notion. Every day at work was hell on Earth. The pay was bad enough, but I could have overcome those issues easily if I didn’t feel like I was always getting picked on and being thrown into the toughest areas imagined day in and day out. The worst part was I really had no one around to converse with and rarely had the time to even consider such activities. I think this was the reason why I wrote on Facebook in day how happy I was at work when my supervisor actually helped me and talked to me from time to time rather than just let me stack hundreds of boxes in solitude all day. The difference though, is I actually lost some weight and blew up tons of calories. White the study mentioned in the article above was mostly from a mental feeling, my job simply cut me down from a physical standpoint.
But that is not to say there was some mental anguish as my body didn’t feel right for a great many days, or the fact I talked in my head a lot, which got into some very negative thoughts and then of course, the loss of all my gains. Hmm, so my old job was pretty much the double whammy.
On the other hand, fixing up our work situation might not be the only way to possibly fix your health. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/15/could-exercise-and-our-obsession-with-the-calorie-be-making-us-fat.html This particular article may be simple conjecture on the problem with weight gain, but bear with me. Johnny Adamic, the author of this piece, insinuates that perhaps we are too busy thinking about calories and working out….that our obsession with the weight loss is messing up the actual weight loss. While he uses a rather poor example of comparing 1980s bodies to current bodies, he does make one good observation. Perhaps we are not losing the weight because we are too busy with rewarding ourselves for the good work. Think about it, you did all this hard work in the you for a couple hours, hoping to get those nice cuts for your bathing suit, which would allow you to show off a the beach like a beast. You blow up some 2,000 calories and decide “maybe I deserve a reward!” One cheesecake slice later, or possibly two, and you believe you earned that right. Well, here is the psychological aspect of the equation. If you feel you deserved those two slices of cheesecake, which nearly wiped out all of your healthy caloric gains of the day, what is to stop you from going even further. You see, this is the trap I fell into in 2014, when I was going to Chipotle entirely too much and rationalizing the 1,000+ calorie gutbomb that I ate was all part of the process for me, that I deserved the treat. Well, I think I deserved a lot of treats that year, especially vegan scones from the Whole Foods at River and Craycroft, which as the best selection of vegan scones in the city (trust me, the triple berry is amazing!) It wasn’t until later when I realized each scone was over 300 calories, and I would eat four or five of them at a time (yes I had a problem, but on the other hand, I went to talk to the beautiful vegan woman at the coffee and juice counter and the calorie looking was not something I was very key to).
So right there, if you truly want to lose some weight for your summer excursions, these two tips can certainly help. Of course, the main issue is always the intensity of you regimen. If you are just gonna waltz through the motions and keep eating poorly, then the achievement of having a better body is not something that will be easy. But here is some good advice for you…always keep a goal in mind. Another small study recently implied that people will stay on their healthier diets and exercise more if they have a long term goal established along with a steady dose of accomplishment. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160514105707.htm This was also something I have run into during my own weight loss journey. Right now, I am holding steady with the idea of hitting 220 pounds, and that is going to be painful to say the least. And you can tell just how hard it has been for me, for I keep yo-yoing in the weight department, wondering how I am going to break this cycle. But this harkens back to the second article I mentioned, for thinking about the weight loss and the calorie intact might causing undue stress on me. And I have been pretty stressed out about having no job, per se. Geez, so I guess this means I need to find a job, stop thinking about weight loss and start tracking my results more closely. Hmmm. Sounds so simple. Sounds so practical. Might as well try running with those ideas. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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