NaBlogWriMo 8: Cold Snap

We are in the middle of our first cold snap of the 2018 – 2019 winter here in Albuquerque. Yesterday’s high was 40 whole degrees, with overnight lows in the 20s. Lor and I are dressed in multiple thermal layers, huddled around the space heaters, praying for Spring to come and save us.

I was chatting with a guy from Cincinnati yesterday who I was saying it is currently warmer back home than it is here. “I thought Albuquerque was warmer than this!” he exclaimed. “If it is like this in November, how bad is it in January?”

Just for the heck of it, I looked up Cincinnati’s weather this morning. In icy Ohio, it is currently 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Here in the desert Southwest, it is currently 24 degrees.

I never thought I would want to move North for the winter.

That Icy Feeling

Apparently, that frozen feeling is just going around these days. We are also in the middle of a “cold” period in our daily exercise routine. To wit, we no longer have one.

It has been weeks since we darkened the door of our local gym. Right at the worst time of year to stop going, I should add. Winter is when the metabolism starts slowing down and trying extra hard to store fat. It is also the time when you are less likely to actually go places and do things, preferring to stay home bundled under blankets.

So, what happened? Why did we gradually peter out on our religious exercise routine?

Well, you know. Life happened. Schedules got compressed. Depression struck. You name it, it sure happened.

I am now at the point where I can’t even think about exercising without cringing – partially in shame, partially in exhaustion. And I am supposedly a fitness expert. I have letters to put after my name and everything.

The Movement Condundrum

As it is, only my Fitbit is currently keeping me mobile at all. Once an hour, every hour, it buzzes on my arm, and I force myself to do something. Take out the trash. Pick up after the dog. Fold some laundry. Anything that will convince the evil spirit that lives on my wrist that I am really doing its bidding.

But, the last time I really exercised? That was last month. The dog was going stir crazy, running around the house, so I took her for a walk. She was so hyper that she kept straining on the leash, rushing ahead of me. In order to keep up with her, the walk turned into a run.

We wound up running about two miles.

And darned if it didn’t feel good. Just to be moving again. I promptly committed to myself that I would start doing this every day again.

And I promptly broke my promise to myself the next day, of course.

Even talking about it today makes me uncomfortable. There is nothing really stopping me from heading to the gym today. But Lor has a cold, and I have a ton of editing to do on C. Charel Kunz’ novel Reborn (available now on Storyshop, coming soon to Amazon!), and it is too damn cold anyway.

So, yeah. My motivational skills are lacking when I can’t even talk myself into doing something.

Structure Is The Key To Success

So, how am I going to get past this?

Structure. It is really the only solution.

After all, I can still run two miles. I still only weigh 178 pounds. The time to act is now, before entropy sets in. I would hate to face Spring of 2019 weighing over 200 pounds and gasping when I walk around the block.

So I need to institute structure around my workout routine. Telling myself all day long that I will go work out “in a while” obviously isn’t working.

Because I know a little secret about myself: I am a born procrastinator. There used to be a Mark Twain quote on my desk at work: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day AFTER tomorrow.”

I am even the same way with writing, an activity I love. It is still very easy to get up first thing in the morning and look at my iPad with distaste. Maybe I could just look at Facebook or ESPN for a while? Or just play a couple rounds of XCOM or BattleTech on the PC?

And, next thing I know, it is noon, and my most productive writing hours are gone.

So, instead, I use the carrot and stick approach.

I absolutely do not allow myself to touch a video game or other interest until I have either A) written 500 words, or B) edited 1,000 words. The 500-word mark comes from needing to produce a 10,000-word episode every month for Fiction Vortex – 5 days a week x 4 weeks a month = 20 days to produce 10,000 words. Do the maths, and I have to create 500 words a day just to stay afloat.

This month, for NaBlogWriMo, I have committed to working on the daily blog post instead of the usual requirements, but you get the picture. (I actually got a full episode ahead of schedule on Executor just so I could write something different this month.)

There Is No Carrot, There Is Only Stick

The trick now is to figure out where to fit in the commitment to exercise. After all, I already know that exercise has an endorphin reward built right in. And that hasn’t been enough to get me moving. So, where the heck is my “Carrot?” My only motivation, therefore, has to be “Stick.”

There has to be a block of time, every day, specifically dedicated to fitness. Has to. I’ve given that advice to dozens of people going through bariatric surgery.

However, I am not willing to give up my most productive writing hours, early morning, in order to work out. And the rest of the time our daily schedules are so fluid that I have no idea where to fit in a dedicated block of time.

It is a pretty problem, to be sure.

I deal with forgetting to take my cocktail of daily anti-seizure meds with alarms throughout the day. I deal with lack of motivation to write by getting started immediately upon waking up before I am fully aware of what I am doing.

So, in a perfect world, I would exercise in the evening.

But I have so much trouble talking myself into leaving the house after 6 pm that I am pretty sure that idea is doomed to failure. Hell, I have trouble talking myself into leaving the house pretty much any time of day. So I will wrestle with it and let you all know what I come up with.

Sigh. At least my mind is getting a daily workout these days.

Catch you all tomorrow,

– Jeremy Schofield, CPT

(Told you there were letters after my name)

Life in the Freezing Frozen

I wake up in the 5 AM darkness, shivering. I check on Lor, who is still fast asleep, curled up in the fetal position, clutching Vixen for a heat source. I am positive that something has gone wrong with the heating system in the house, so I make my way across the (frozen) hardwood floor, out into the (frozen) hallway, and check our thermostat. It insists that the temperature is 69 degrees. But I know, for a fact, that it is -12 degrees F, and we have been somehow transported from the high desert of Albuquerque to the middle of an iceberg floating through the Arctic Sea.

Welcome to the Freezing Frozen – also known as life after bariatric surgery.

I sit here writing feeling as though I have icicles dangling from my earlobes. I am wearing flannel underwear, thick socks, flannel boxers, a set of “thermal” leggings, an undershirt, a sweatshirt, and a hoodie. Except for the hoodie, this is what I wore to bed last night. It is a whole new world. A very cold and ice-covered world, in fact.

I have had it explained to me many times, and no two explanations are the same. Maybe the body’s heat regulator gets completely out of whack after bariatric surgery. Perhaps increased metabolism causes us to perceive heat differently. It is a temporary condition that will correct itself after a few months. Or it is a torment to people who are a decade out from their surgeries. The only consensus is that there is no consensus.

I kind of like Lor’s explanation, actually – she tells people that, with having lost nearly 100 pounds each, we have ripped out the majority of our “insulation”. What would happen to the temperature in our house if we removed half the insulation in our attic?

I am fairly sure it would feel exactly the way it does right now, actually.

Apparently, we have been talking about this more than a little. One of the gifts we received from my in-laws was a 1500 Watt space heater. My parents bought us clothing gift certificates, and my mother advised me to “Buy something warm.” I sincerely apologize to everyone who has had to listen to us complain about the cold.

But, it is either that or listen to our teeth chattering.

Wishing I Could Type With Gloves On,

– Hawkwind

Where Has The Polar Bear Gone?

Winter has totally arrived here in New Mexico – as I sit here (shivering) this morning it is a mind-numbing 27 degrees outside, with the wind chill further reducing conditions to 20. The poor ancient wall heaters in our home keep rumbling into life and trying to keep up, but the fact of the matter is: it is freakin’ freezing in here. No amount of socks, sweatshirts, and jackets seem to take the edge off.

I have never in my life been this cold. Which is odd, because I have certainly been in temperatures that were colder. All my adult life, friends and family members have referred to me as a “polar bear” – I have been able to function in, if not exactly enjoy, really cold weather. So, what happened?

The problem, as it turns out, can be traced back to weight loss surgery.

Part of this is a no-brainer: fat is a natural insulator. Since I have currently lost 29% (and counting) of my weight, I should expect to be 29% colder, right? But I don’t feel like the temperature has dropped by a few percentage points. I feel like I am suffering through the heat death of the universe. So, what gives?

As it turns out, there is a second problem with the results of massive weight loss from surgery: the metabolism slows way down. Why? Because it is no longer having to work as hard in keeping blood flowing, oxygen moving, and digestive processes happening. The energy bill for a 3,000 square foot house is going to be much higher than the bill for a 2,000 square foot home. Since the metabolic process generates energy, it also produces heat as a by-product. (Think of how hot a saw blade gets when making a really long cut.) Less metabolic expenditure = less energy used = less heat generated. That’s science at work.

The end result is that we now huddle around our heaters, cursing when they turn off. We shuffle around the house in multiple layers of winter clothing, topped off with ski jackets. And at night we huddle closer to one another (which is nice) and fight over who gets to use poor Vixen as a space heater (which is less nice, especially for Vixen.) At this point, I am not even sure that the end is in sight: some say this problem lasts for the first few months after surgery, but other sources claim we will be this way for the rest of our lives. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, we will just have to shiver, bundle up, and take really hot showers on an hourly basis.

On An Ice Floe Waiting For Spring To Come,

– Hawkwind