Saturday, October 8, 2011

Entry #3 - Baby Steps

-- Nothing in life is more remarkable than the unnecessary anxiety which we endure, and generally create ourselves.
-- Benjamin Disraeli

It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous, scared and anxious about my first workout with Marty. For many years, everything about my life had been about limitations. I can't do this because it hurts. I can't do that because I am too heavy or it requires too much effort. My brain had ceased to operate on the ideas of hope, possibility, and promise. Instead I was living in a world of resignation, passivity, and regret. So, my mind could only hover around the idea that this workout was going to hurt. It was going to be too hard. It was probably something I couldn't do.

My fears were unfounded. Yes, it was hard, but not too hard. Some things hurt, but when I pointed that out, Marty would adapt the exercise so it didn't hurt. And to my utter surprise, I could do it. We spent the first workout simply walking, talking, and trying the various pieces of exercise equipment to see if I could use them. Yes, when you weigh 550 lbs, you are a danger to treadmills and elliptical machines. Many of the weight lifting machines have seats that are too small or apparatuses that are too restrictive for a large belly to fit in. Well .... I guess I just announced my starting weight. It is an estimate because at that size, we had trouble finding scales that would accurately measure me. Perhaps we should have gone out to the semi-truck scales on the interstate. :)

I can tell you that watching the Biggest Loser made me think that Marty was going to beat me to a pulp on the first workout. He saved that for later. :) I think it was brilliant of him to ease me into the exercise. Mostly, he just found ways for me to keep moving. We started small. Accumulating minor victories each week. It kept my spirits up and didn't make me dread my next work out. In the first workout, we didn't have any victories yet to cheer, but Marty kept letting me know how happy he was that I started this journey with him and how great things were going to be when I could move better. It seemed like a far off dream, but he made it sound real. He made it sound possible. Little did I know, it wouldn't take very long at all.

We added basketball to my workouts. I was shooting around before bootcamp one day and I noticed that I was out of breath and my heartrate was up from shooting two or three baskets (sad, I know). I told Marty this and to my shock, he was excited to hear it. This became my new warm-up activity. I would play around-the-world, shooting until I made the basket at each of 5 stations on the court. We also spent time simply passing the basketball back and forth, but I was supposed to slam it onto the ground has hard as I could. I also added this to my bootcamp experience. Instead of simply watching the others work, I would, at times, slam the basketball on the ground repeatedly. Thanks folks for putting up with my chorus of thuds during your workout. :)

I was astounded by how creative Marty could be. He knew the muscle groups he wanted to build within me, but we were limited on ways that we could work them. Many machines were too restrictive, but he always had an alternative. Something that just got those muscles moving. We took a lot of breaks during these first weeks. My sore back and lack of cardiovascular conditioning gave us about 5 or 6 minutes of continued exercise before I was needing a break. Ever productive, Marty used this time to talk. Teaching me about the nutritional/dietary requirements. We spent the time getting to know each other. Each week, the workout time got a little bit longer and the rest periods a little shorter. Progress was being made.

-- Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
-- Benjamin Franklin

All through these first weeks, I was attending the bootcamp sessions to watch them work out. Marty had suggested that I do this, but I was pretty nervous about that too. Who wants to be the fat kid on the bleachers, unable to participate? I was worried it would be a de-motivator. To my surprise, it was a motivator. First of all, it was never awkward for me. The people were still accepting and happy to see me there. And while I did not like being on the sidelines, I thought the bootcamp looked like fun and I was eager to join. That drove me to be more interested in my individual workouts because those were the efforts that were going to make me able to "play with the other kids". I couldn't wait to play dodge ball and basketball and run Marty's little obstacle courses.

It is a good thing this lovely group of people were so accepting, kind and caring. Otherwise, the supermarket walk-through would have been even more awkward than it already was. As you may recall, I was unable to walk the supermarket without significant pain, so Marty told me I could use the little motorized cart to follow along with them. It ended up being a perfect solution. I was able to take in all the information he was giving me. Had I tried to walk it, I would have been distracted by the pain. So, a chosen few of the bootcampers, Marty, and Brad were privileged (?) enough to have the opportunity to see me tool around the store like Mrs. B at the Nebraska Furniture Mart. I won't lie. This was humiliating. I couldn't have asked for a more glaring example of how bad things had become. Being unable to walk is a morbid fear of the 500+ pound man. No one wants to be that guy they have to lift out of bed with a crane. Marty and the others just treated it as a non-issue and moved on with the lesson as if I was just another member of the tour instead of "scooter boy". This made it much easier on me. That and running over Brad's foot from time to time.

These beginning steps were tiny ... nearly unnoticeable. But, they were MY first steps. They were my first steps into a new life, a better world, a happier time. It was amazing how these simple steps affected my emotions. The depression was going away. Hope and happiness were replacing all those bad emotions. I was doing something about it. I was moving forward instead of backward. I was moving instead of sitting. A possible future was beginning to unfold in my mind. Far away, to be sure, but attainable.

As the old philosopher pointed out .....

-- (The) journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
-- Lao-Tzu

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