Nothing dumber than the end of summer

I’m really not sure how it got to be September 1st, but here we are. Technically, we have 22 more days until the autumnal equinox, but something about September seems to signal a shift from summer to fall. Despite the title of this post, I am glad for it. School has started, which brings about as much normalcy to our house as you can get with my rotating schedule, which is a good thing. It does seem like there is a lot more going on than in previous years, but I guess that’s what high school is all about.

I read this post by Wil Wheaton last night in which he brought us up to date on a series of goals he set for himself about a year ago. Among them, were “resolutions” to drink less, read more, write more, exercise more, watch more movies, eat better food and get better sleep. It’s interesting to see his progress. I remember being really inspired by his initial post in which he laid out these goals.  Obviously not inspired enough to adopt them all for myself at the time, but inspired nonetheless. Wheaton is almost exactly my age (I’m about 6 weeks older) and since he is the patron saint of nerds, I enjoy reading his blog posts and following him on Twitter. He also is shamelessly vocal about his experiences with both depression and anxiety, something that endears him tremendously to me. He removes the stigma that surrounds both conditions, a stigma that is doubly present if you’re a man.

A lot of his goals are my goals as well, although much less formally. I feel like he’s doing better than me on pretty much all counts. The one area that I have really improved this year is to drink less. On that count, I’ve been amazingly successful. I had no idea just how much I was using alcohol to medicate my own anxiety and depression until I just stopped having it around the house as an option. Like Wheaton, I make a conscious decision every day to not drink – helped immensely by the fact that we just don’t have any alcohol around. I have gone from drinking a glass or two of wine 3-4 nights a week to having a drink 2-3 times per month. I reserve those drinks for social occasions with friends – primarily jumbo margaritas at El Azteca. In so doing, I have taken liver function tests that were steadily creeping up and normalized all of them. It’s also a lot of extra calories that I don’t need.

About calories – well, that’s been kind of a different story. I lost about 20 pounds earlier this year. This was a huge achievement for me, and part of what I was trying to do to improve not only my liver health but my general health overall. I was super proud of how I had done, limiting my caloric intake, training my brain to not eat the shitty food in the hospital cafeteria and eat the stuff that was better for you. It was thrilling to watch the pounds fall off. The 20 pounds came off in about 3 months, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not get below 220 pounds – my goal of being less than 100 kg just out of reach. Then life happened. Work got super stressful, money got extremely challenging, and I reverted to comfort food. Rather than being proud of my progress, the pounds started to creep back on. As of today, I’ve regained about 17 of those 20 pounds that I lost. I’m trying again, but the stress of my life has not abated much, nor do I expect it to. Yesterday, as I made shitty food choice after shitty food choice, I decided that I just couldn’t do this anymore. So often, I think I’m hungry when what I really am is bored or stressed or nervous or just generally down on myself. My goal is to recognize those times and not medicate with food in the way that I used to medicate with wine every night after work. I have no idea how successful I’ll be, but I know that I did it once, so I should be able to do it again.

The summer has been hard, but nothing has suffered more than my walking to work. I have never enjoyed exercise or physical activity, so I really have to force myself to exercise. Walking to work has been the one physical activity that not only do I enjoy but I also can be counted on to do rather regularly. The only problem is that in the dog days of summer, walking a mile even at 7:30AM results in me being a sweaty mess and in need of a shower by the time I get to work. I guess my body is just SUPER efficient at cooling itself off.  I’m hoping with the cooling of the weather I will be much more religious about that. I have a friend who is a runner and I admire his resolve and determination so much. Every Saturday, he does a “long run” – something I’m sure I would not be able to do, nor am I certain I will ever do. I’m not in terrible shape as I can walk a mile or two without getting crushing chest pain, which I count as a positive. I’m hoping as the weather cools off, I am more inspired to resume my walks to and from work.

The year continues to be a bit of a bear – emotionally, physically, financially, you-name-it-ly, but I feel like I’m calmer than I was even a month ago. A lot of that has to do with being on the right meds. I’ve completely ditched the morning Klonopin dose as I’ve found I just don’t need it. And I’ve hit my out-of-pocket maximum for the year which means free therapy for the rest of the year so yay.

To those that continue to read these words, I salute you and for those who have supported me in person in ways big and small, please come collect a hug sometime.

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