The Running of the Zombies

The Running of the Zombies

Anyone who follows Misdirected knows that I have a pretty simple rule I live by regarding weight loss/weight maintenance. The rule is this: Keep Moving. Every case of serious weight regain after bariatric surgery that I have been able to research had one thing in common. In every case, the patients (without exception!) stopped exercising.

So, it was with a certain amount of fear and trepidation that I hopped on the scale this morning. October has not been a good month for me. My writing production and my exercise both plummetted to nearly nothing. Now, there were some good reasons behind this – 10 days each of house-sitting and recovering from another round of kidney stones. But the fact remains that I have been sitting a heck of a lot more than I have been moving.

I was lucky – my weight is still dialed in at 177 pounds. I could have very easily taken a few steps back rather than maintaining the 175-ish weight I have settled in at. However, I’ve decided to reenergize my exercise routine. In honor of the season, and to really motivate me to get back in gear, I’ve decided to be pursued by flesh-eating mutants.

Umm, What?

For those who have no idea what the heck I am talking about, let me clue you in. I am referring to the 5K-training app called Zombies, Run! produced by Six To Start. The premise is simple – you are unceremoniously dropped into a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with the walking dead and must run to avoid them. The catch is that you are a “Runner”, being directed by an air-traffic controller of sorts. This controller tells you when to speed up, when to slow down, etc.

The premise is brilliant, and it works extremely well. It doesn’t hurt that the story you are participating in is written by novelist Naomi Alderman. There is plenty of exposition, character development and, of course, sheer mind-numbing terror as your imagination (and audio cues) feeds you the idea that you are this close to being eating by a pack of mutated cannibals.

I was introduced to the concept by Wil Wheaton, (whose blog I follow semi-religiously) who has been using the app for his own self-improvement program. I had tried it last year but found that it didn’t lend itself to working out in a gym.

This year, I revisited it and found that it now works fabulously not only for free-form running but also for treadmills and other types of stationary exercise equipment. It has now replaced C25K as my 5K trainer of choice.

Amping Up The Creepies

One of the neat things about the software is that it enables you to run your own music in the background, during periods where the narrators aren’t directing your next moves. I had been using this to build an exercise-themed Spotify playlist to work out with.

But, the thought occurred to me…what if I could improve on the fight or flight factor?

So, instead, I am no longer using music as my soundtrack for running. Instead, I have loaded up Podcast Addict, and am streaming the entire run of the Lore podcast. If you don’t know about this, you should. It is some of the creepiest story-telling around. Narrator Aaron Mahnke delves into real-life tales of grim death and horror. These stories serve as the perfect background “music” for the increasingly scarier story developing with Zombies, Run.

It also is a great research tool for me as a horror writer. I am simultaneously working out and working. It is the kind of life hack that just makes me quiver. In fear. Of the monsters beneath the bed.

Those wanting to give their adrenal glands a break may want to stick with music from Nickelodeon or something, though. It can get a little rough at times the way I am doing it.

5K By December 31

And, though we may not get the opportunity to run in an “official” 5K before the end of the year, I am still determined to run a full 5K before the year is out. Lor and I will continue to train diligently. If we can’t find one to sign up for in December we will simply design a 5K course here in Albuquerque and run it ourselves. It seems a fitting way to close out the year that has seen so much personal and physical development for us.

In the interim, though, I will keep running from the blood-curdling horde of zombies that are right on my heels…and take “breaks” by listening to Aaron Mahnke talk about hauntings and mass murderers. To give my fight or flight system a rest.

There might be something wrong with me…

Hoping There Is A 10K Version Of “Zombies, Run” For Next Year,

Jeremy

Fitness After Bariatric Surgery

Fitness After Bariatric Surgery

I get it – obesity generally does not happen to those who are maintaining good habits like going to the gym. Now, after years of hanging out on the couch, we are told by our bariatric surgery team that we need to get active. And then we need to stay active.

So, how the heck do we do that?

A Word Of Caution

Now, remember, folks – I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. The most important step you can take here is to coordinate your fitness plan carefully with the professionals in your life. Talk to your bariatric surgeon. Set up an appointment with your family doctor. Chat with your nutritionist. Maybe even make an initial consultation with a physical trainer. Don’t decide that you know everything there is to know about the subject and do it yourself.

Why not? In a word: setbacks. My wife, Lor, decided 3 days after surgery to walk nearly half a mile, despite warnings about taking it slow from her surgical team. The result? She injured herself and was bed-ridden for nearly a week afterward. The most important thing to remember is speed (slow) and consistency (every day.)

Try to keep in mind that physical activity is your friend. (Though it may not feel like it at times.) I have talked to and read about dozens of people who suffered major weight regains in the years after surgery. The common element? Every single one of them had stopped exercising.

Getting Off The Bed

In the days immediately following your surgery, your surgical team will be telling you to walk as much as you can. Great news: you can do this anywhere, with no special equipment. Spend the first days at home from the hospital getting out of bed, walking a few times back and forth around your home, and lie back down. Keep doing this! It may seem pointless, but it really isn’t.

Any kind of exercise (even that slow walking you can do) increases blood flow through your body. It tells the brain that you are using those muscles, creating a caloric deficit. Since you are not getting anything but protein shakes or mush during your first month post-surgery, the calories you need have to come from somewhere. So the body begins tapping into fat reserves, burning off your excess fat.

By being active every day, and steadily increasing your physical activity, you are asking your body to maintain your muscles by burning fat. It is as simple (and as profound) as that.

Getting Into The Gym

At 30 days out, you will hopefully get the green light from your surgery team to add resistance exercise (weights) to your routine. For many of us, this is a daunting task. What the heck am I supposed to do at a gym, anyway?

Relax – it really isn’t that complex. There are literally hundreds of tools out there to get you started if you don’t have a pro available to build a routine for you. I know you have access to the internet – you’re reading this, right? A search of “beginning weightlifting routine” turns up newbie-friendly programs from reputable sites like bodybuilding.com, Muscle and Fitness, and Shape. Spend some time looking around, find one you like, and get started.

I, personally, selected a plan from JeFit, thanks to its integration with my smartphone. My memory is horrible – so bad that I will not remember exercises, weights, and reps from one week to the next. Accordingly, I place my workout on my cell phone. A notebook will work just as well. Lor keeps her entire routine in her head. Not that I am jealous or anything.

My routine is broken up over 3 days: Day #1 is Chest/Triceps, Day #2 is Back/Biceps/Forearms, and Day #3 is Shoulders/Legs. Each routine is only 6 or 7 exercises long. I am not looking to isolate single muscles yet. I am looking for exercises that hit lots of muscle groups all at the same time. Each routine takes me about an hour. On days when I am not lifting weights, I am spending about an hour doing cardio. I include crunches at the end of every workout – weightlifting or cardio.

I do this six days a week. Sunday, I watch football. It sorta feels like exercise, anyway.

Also, remember: your gym workout does not have to be in a gym. A set of resistance bands and a yoga mat can be enough to get you started. It certainly was for me. If you find yourself too short on time to get to a gym, do it at home. Just make sure you do it!

Getting Into It (For Life)

The most important thing you can do is find a workout routine you will stick with. Don’t like weights? Try something like Pilates or Yoga – a routine that uses the body’s weight against itself. Can’t stand running? Put yourself on an elliptical machine or a bike. The most important thing is consistency. The person who simply walks around their neighborhood for half an hour every day will eventually be in better shape than the person with an intensely detailed workout routine who only exercises once a week.  Consistency is key.

After that, don’t allow yourself to get bored! Try new things, and create new challenges for yourself. As many of you know, I started the Couch to 5K  program a couple of weeks back. I did this simply because I have always hated running. It creates a challenge for me – can I really push through all the weeks of the program? This is my motivation – doing better than the week before. Find your own motivations: body measurements, dance lessons, a new outfit. Use whatever it takes to inspire you to get up and get moving.

Though I don’t recommend using things like “ice cream sundae” as a motivation. That way lies madness.

Ready For C25K Week 3,

Jeremy