For all of my academic strengths, I knew the biggest hurdle I’d face if I wanted to become a paramedic is to get my health and fitness in line with the demands of the job. To my knowledge, I have no medical issues that create real obstacles to hold me back other than my formerly broken ankle. I have always been on the bigger side of life, but with exception to 3 instances, it has never prevented me from participating or completing anything in life.
As anyone can imagine, the job of a paramedic requires a certain level of fitness to both be effective and to safely carry out the job. I knew that, if I want to be a medic, I would need to lose weight and to increase my general fitness (strength, cardiovascular, flexibility, and mobility). I’ve been making steady progress, and have managed to reliably keep weight off. However, this progress has not been without it’s lost ground as I try to forge ahead.
The problem with exercise and diet is that my long history with food means the habits I have ingrained are hard to break, so when my exercise and diet systems break down, it’s easy for me to undermine my progress. Case in point: my trip to Scotland.
I had originally set a goal for myself: by the time I would take my trip to Scotland, I would be 275lbs. This is 50lbs down from my heaviest recorded weight and would really signal progress on my path. In the weeks leading up to Scotland, a number of priorities and events
stressed broke my systems. I stopped going to the gym, I was forced to cut back on grocery expenditures, and I was making poor eating choices. My last recorded weigh-in before Scotland:
Jul 10th – 296lbs
Not bad, but fairly off my target. Still, it was 30lbs down from my starting weight, and I was proud of that accomplishment.
There were two thoughts in the back of my mind regarding the Scotland trip: first, I would not be eating particularly healthy while I was travelling, so that would count against me; and second, I would be walking around more, so it should off-set some of my bad habits while I indulged on the trip. Turns out, the former was true, but the latter was mistaken. We spent a fair amount of time driving, which meant I was running substantial caloric surpluses. The result? My first weigh-in after my trip:
Aug 3 – 311lbs
Yikes! I wiped out 15lbs of progress! Granted, I know this is the result of a lot of factors, like water weight, that’s not just body weight, however it was still disheartening to see on the scale.
It has been over two weeks since I’ve come home from the trip and I still have not returned to the gym. The system has ground to a halt. This is not to say I’ve completely fallen off the wagon, though. With re-establishing some of my diet systems, that 311lbs has dropped a bit, and I’m hovering around 305lbs, which is progress.
This process is certainly something that has helped me learn more about myself and how important systems are to my goals. I can’t simply rely on hoping I make good choices in the moment, because so many competing interests are at play. This has also re-affirmed that the gym is not as high of a priority for me as I had hoped, since it’s the first thing that gets jettisoned when my workload is overburdened (keep in mind, prior to Scotland, I was working a full time job, a part time job, two major volunteer committee commitments, sorting out personal things in my life, sustaining a long-distance relationship, podcasting, trip planning, and taking a distance education course). These are not excuses, but reasons why I failed to hit my target. Autopsying the wreckage will hopefully give me some insight on how I can do better next time.
In a future post, I’ll discuss what I’ve learned from health and trying to set up self-sustaining systems, but in the meantime, I need to get those systems back on track!