15,000 (And Counting)

A couple of days ago I mentioned to someone that I sort of missed my Fitbit Flex. You may remember that, back in March, it stopped recharging, needing to be slapped onto the charger every hour or so. The person I was chatting with recommended that I contact Fitbit support. I was hesitant, given that the unit is three years old and I am the third owner. However, I took the plunge, figuring that all I had to lose was time.

Two hours later, my Fitbit was back up and running, thanks to a patient tech, a system reboot, and an alcohol swab. I was delighted.

That is, until I checked out my numbers for the last few days.

Not Exactly What I Expected

The numbers were…discouraging, to say the least. At no point since the Fitbit sprang back to life have I hit my step goal for the day.

I thought I was actually maintaining a high level of activity. We haven’t managed regular gym attendance for two weeks now, thanks to scheduling conflicts and Real Life. But I was under the impression that I was getting my activity in via daily activities like walking the dog, working around the house, etc. That impression has now gone the way of all fantasies – vanished in a puff of rainbow-colored smoke.

Instead, I have been managing a mere 6,000 or so steps a day.  Before the Fitbit died I would hit my step goal of 8,000 regularly. Now, I am coming in 25% short every single day.

For the sake of reference, a 5K race like the one we completed a month ago is a little over 4,000 steps. We did that in less than an hour. And now, I suddenly can’t make 8,000 steps in an entire day.

That was discouraging enough. Then I received my most recent copy of Men’s Health and got a real eye-opener.

15K or Bust

Turns out the magic number for improving health in men is not a mere 8,000 steps a day.

No, the International Journal of Obesity (referenced by Men’s Health) states that the number of daily steps taken by men with zero reported metabolic issues is…15,000.

The number I should be aiming for is almost twice my current step goal for the day (8,000 steps.)

Which, as I mentioned, I am no longer hitting. The 3-month absence of the coach on my wrist has brought my daily activity down by 25%.

So, now what?

Eyes on The Prize

It isn’t as though I have retired to a life of indolent luxury. I am not lying around the house in a toga, power-eating carbohydrates.

The things I have been doing are important. Working on my novel. Dealing with issues from my other disability. Communicating with Senators and Representatives about potential changes to SSDI. Studying for my Personal Trainer certification test (now only 45 days away.)

But, none of that is really going to matter if I backslide into bad eating habits and low activity. The fact that we got through the 5K has created a certain lassitude in me. My current physical goals are not as pressing as the 5K was.

Apparently, I need to address that.

First things first: I need to get back over my minimum required activity level for the day.

So, here is what I am going to do:

For 6 out of the next 7 days, I will post on Facebook when I get over my 8,000 steps for the day. (Sunday will not count, as I give myself one day off a week.)

Feel free to call me out if I do not post for the day. Facebook messages, Tweets, emails, whatever.

Once I get back on track…well, then we will start talking about that 15K number.

Inviting You To Hold My Feet To The Fire,


The Failure Cycle

This started out as a very different post.

Initially, I was exercising my self-flagellation skills. I had a lousy week last week and wanted everyone to know it.

Then, about 250 words in, I realized something: No one wants to read this.

So I started over.

The Life Reset Button

You must understand, starting over represents a moral victory, for me.

My usual reaction to failure is not a healthy one: I get frustrated, decide that I can’t succeed, and quit.

I am not a good forward thinker. I am forever second-guessing my past decisions instead of planning new approaches. Lor refers to this phenomenon as “getting stuck.” I mentally chase my tail, trying to figure out what I did wrong, afraid to act again for fear of a second failure. So I end up not doing anything.

Well, that isn’t really the whole story. Actually, I used to think about my failure while over-eating comfort food and drinking beer. But, that isn’t really an option anymore, is it? Due to the whole “6-ounce stomach pouch” thing.

The hardest thing I am having to learn post-surgery is to let failures go.

If I have already blown it, I am no longer in a position to retrieve my failure. I have to accept it, try to learn from it, and do better next time. Just mash down that “reset” button, and head back the way I came, trying to figure out just where I went off the rails.

C.S Lewis said it best: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.”

Moving Forward

So, what can I do in response to a week where I didn’t write, barely went to the gym, and made some pretty shaky dietary choices?

Nothing. Nada. Not a darn thing.

But, today is Monday. And today I can write my blog post, cook a healthy set of meals, and head back to the gym. And then I can set my sights on Tuesday.

It seems simplistic, but analyzing failure will only take you so far. At some point, you actually have to put yourself back in traffic and start doing again.

So, that is what I am going to do. No clever observations, no folksy words of wisdom today. Just get back on that horse and wait until the next time it throws me off. All I can hope for is that I go a little further before the next time I come crashing to the ground.

Our nutritionist, Patti, said it like this: “You are going to have good days and bad days. Just make sure that your good days outnumber the bad ones.”

Guess I need to start stringing together some good days, then. I am in a bit of a bad day deficit.

At Least I Lost A Pound Last Week,




Check The Bucket List

Run for the Zoo 2017 Artwork
Artist: Sean Wells

Well, the day is almost here. Barring getting eaten by a grizzly bear or something, on Sunday we will be participating in the 2017 Run For The Zoo.

The next time you visit Misdirected, I will have crossed one of the final items off of my bucket list. I am going to have to come up with some new goals.

Why A 5K, Anyway?

To an outsider, it may look like not such a big deal. A 5K race works out to 3.1 miles. In context, someone trying to keep up with their Fitbit’s demands for 10,000 steps a day will be walking 8 kilometers a day. (Around 5 miles.) And Lor and I have already gone out on hikes that equal or exceed this amount. So, why all the hoopla?

Mainly because, for a very long time, I couldn’t even walk 1 kilometer, much less race 5. My epilepsy, my weight, and my depression all contributed to an anchor around my neck. It was much easier to just sit around the house and wait for seizures or obesity to finally kill me.

But, a rebellious spark still remained alight inside me. Every Spring I would look at the billboards around town and think “Man, if I could just run the RFTZ – that would mean I had accomplished something.”

Thanks to bariatric surgery, I’ve been given a second lease on life. And since surgery last year, I have kept focused on this goal. 2017 was going to be the year.

Let me put it another way. A runner may be able to run 26.2 miles. And they should be proud of that fact. But only a select few can say they have run the Boston Marathon.

The Run For The Zoo is my Boston Marathon.

To Run, Or Not To Run?

A minor hiccup in the whole proceedings is that I won’t actually be running the event. Even at my current weight, I am still a hair over my goal weight. There is still another 15 or 20 pounds of excess skin hanging in folds all over my body. And my poor, arthritic knees are just not able to support all that mass while running for half an hour straight yet.

So, we have already resigned ourselves to not “running” the race this year. We enrolled in the untimed fitness walk section of the race. But, Lor has pointed out that there is no reason we can’t treat it like our current C25K training. So, we will walk for a few minutes, run for a few. We won’t run the whole thing, but we won’t be solely walking either. It seems like a decent compromise.

We’ll still get to enjoy the ambiance of the Albuquerque bosque in spring. We will have confederates – a bunch of other people who also didn’t feel comfortable registering for the timed event. And we will still be supporting the Albuquerque Bio Park.

Even if it isn’t exactly a race, it still feels like a win.

I’ll Wear The T-Shirt Proudly

We get to go pick up our pre-registration packets tomorrow morning. I don’t know if those of us who aren’t competing in a timed event get a bib with a number on it, but both Lor and I will both get swell t-shirts.

And, though it isn’t a timed event, I am going to have Lor time us on her Fitbit. (Mine died last month.) I really want to know how long this takes us. Lor is hyper-competitive, and I am beginning to follow her example. Being surrounded by a ton of other walkers is sure to trigger our “Faster, Faster!” switches. And, I can also use our completion time for my own nefarious purposes.

It will give me a target time for completing a 5K.

The Run For The Zoo isn’t the only 5K available, after all. My sister-in-law and her family set the awesome example of running a different 5K every month last year. While I don’t imagine that Lor and I will be that motivated, wouldn’t it be cool to try again in, say, 6 months? See if maybe we could shave some minutes of our time from this event?

I know, it is like a drug. You take that first step and next thing you know you are working towards getting that “13.1” sticker on your rear windshield.

First things first, though. Let’s get through Sunday and then see how it goes.

Looking Both Ways For Grizzly Bears,


To Carb, or Not To Carb?

Into every post-surgery life, a little rain must fall. Apparently, it is my turn again, as my latest weigh-in has me up by 1.2 pounds. This would not be terribly significant if it were not for the fact that I am within spitting distance of my goal weight of 185. It seems a cruel joke by my metabolism, setting me back when I am under 5 pounds away.

What Do The Numbers Really Mean?

Now, first things first: gaining a pound when you weigh 188 (189, now) pounds is no reason to sound the alarms. So many different things can contribute to weight fluctuation. There is no way to determine if this is water weight, or “OMG I ate a cheesecake” weight gain.

For the record, I did not eat a cheesecake.

What I did do, though, is change a couple things in my workout habits. I have been hitting the workouts really hard. At the advice of our shared personal trainer, I have reversed my normal exercise routine. I am now doing weights first, then cardio-vascular exercise. This meant instant increases in all my weight levels for resistance exercise. It also means I am leaving the gym a heck of a lot more blown out than I was previously.

My trainer, Ian, also suggested that I look into HIIT exercise. High-Intensity Interval Training involves blasting out reps as hard as you can for a short time period (usually 30 or 60 seconds), then resting for a minute or two. It sounded interesting until I mentioned how low my current carb load is.

“Carbs are what your body uses for fuel,” Ian told me. “At your carb level, you are going to have nothing in the tank.”

Torn Between Two Experts

So, we have my Certified Personal Trainer, Ian, suggesting that my exercise level needs to be supported by increasing the carbs in my diet.

And we have my Certified Nutritionist, Patti, who insists that, for bariatric patients, carbs are the devil.

So, umm…yeah. Confused much?

Last week I made the judicious decision to increase my carb content by about 50% (to 90 grams a day.) I slept better, had more energy,  and got all the way through all my workouts.

And I gained 1.2 pounds.

Now, other factors have to be taken into consideration. Development of lean muscle mass means that, initially, weight will go up. This, in turn, will raise the Base Metabolic Rate, meaning that the body will burn more energy while resting. Which should, in theory, lead to overall weight loss.

Now, do I really think I added 1.2 pounds of muscle in a week?

Kinda doubt it.

Peering Into The Future

So, I am going to have to settle for looking down the road and deciding what my focus will be.

The fact of the matter is, I am not training for weight loss per se. I am training for functional muscle and endurance. Starting this weekend, I have some energy-burning activities on the radar.

On Sunday we will be participating in our first 5K.

Later this month we will be hauling ourselves up a 45-foot wall at Stone Age Climbing Gym.

We’ll be heading out every week on a different day hike into the Sandias.

And this will all culminate in the assault on the La Luz Trail, probably in August.

The theme here seems to be “energy-burning activities.” I am going to have to plan (and train) accordingly. This is going to mean enhanced carbohydrate intake. So I am going to have to be careful. Complex carbs, ancient grains, and regular food logging will be the order of the day. And, once the increased workout load stops, I will need to drop the carbs back to 60 grams or less a day.

Every time I start to panic, I can just reach into my closet and try on my beloved 501s. As long as the 36-inch waistline is comfortable, I won’t panic too much.

As of this morning, they are actually a little loose.

Now there’s some food for thought.

Are 34s On The Horizon?



The Difference Between Boys And Girls

Body Image Perceptions Between the Sexes

I am frequently writing about how baffled I am that more men are not taking advantage of bariatric surgery. As I might have mentioned before, the most recent numbers I have suggest that over 80% of bariatric surgery patients are female. Obesity, though, is not related to sex: it is pretty evenly divided across the spectrum. However, two conversations I’ve had in recent history have given me some new perspective on the whole issue…

The Feminine Outlook

I had a conversation with a woman recently who is concerned about her current weight. Two years out from bariatric surgery, she feels like she just isn’t succeeding. She remains 15 pounds away from her goal weight and “nothing is working.” Whenever she looks in the mirror she sees nothing but fat. She has no familial support, and what she feels more than anything is alone.

Her weight loss sin? She has “only” lost 95 pounds and kept it off for two years.

Give that a moment to sink in. This woman dropped 100 pounds and kept it off for two years, and considers herself a failure.

Needless to say, I encouraged her and told her the truth: she’s doing great. Goal weights are tools, nothing is set in stone, etc. But, all the while, I couldn’t help thinking about how I will feel if I successfully keep 100 pounds of weight off for two years.

Hint: I won’t be disappointed.

The Male Perspective

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a man whose wife reads Misdirected. She was “on his ass” about weight loss, and he wanted to share his opinions with me.

Just looking at him it was obvious that there was a problem here. This guy was, at a minimum, 70 pounds overweight. In fact, his build was almost identical to mine a year ago. Climbing a few steps from his entryway into his house left him winded. However, once he and I got settled in his man cave, he had a few things to say about the subject of his health.

Men in his family have always been heavy, he told me. He was active – he didn’t need to go to a gym! He could maybe stand to lose a few pounds, but surgery was just a stupid idea. No offense to me, of course.

All this while he worked his way through 4 beers in less than an hour. (I politely declined.) At lunch, he annihilated a plate twice the size of his wife’s in a couple minutes then began picking off her plate. Shortly thereafter I thanked him for his time and opinions and went on my way.

Somehow he remained blissfully ignorant that there might be a problem or two that needed to be addressed here. And I couldn’t help but think: This is me before last February, isn’t it?

The Can Gap

The sociology of why women believe they are overweight and men believe they are fit is beyond the scope of Misdirected. Many very intelligent people have looked into the issue and even they can’t arrive at a consensus.

But, the fact remains: we, as a species, are not seeing ourselves realistically. Women who have gone through lifestyle changes including bariatric surgery are thinking they have not done enough. Men who have given up wearing anything but 3x sweatpants are still flexing in front of mirrors.

So, instead of tackling this from a “body awareness” standpoint, or pulling out BMI charts, I want you to ask yourself a simple question.

Does your body allow you to do everything you want to do?

If the answer is no, you have a problem that should be met head-on. Stop making excuses and start making changes. Go talk to your doctor. Make an appointment with a nutritionist. Sign up for a session with a personal trainer. But do something that will point you towards what you really wish you could be doing.

If the answer is yes: Go do it. Stop looking in the mirror, stop worrying about sizes, stop obsessing over what people might think. Instead, go do the things you want to. Go sign up for dance lessons, climb that mountain, take that vacation. There is no “perfect body”. There are only bodies that can, or that can’t.

Make sure you are in the “Can” line.

Still Working On Moving Into The Can-Can Line,