Monday, August 3, 2015

13 Months

It has now been 13 months since I started trying to be less obese.

I'm still obese.

I was discussing this with a friend yesterday, and her response was, "Seriously? I thought you'd be done by now."

I'm not sure why it's such a surprise that I'm not done. I started out at 295 pounds, and I got to that weight over the course of years. The idea that I would get down from that weight in less than a year is not unreasonable, but I'm not just trying to lose weight. I'm trying to do it at a healthy pace, trying not to be hungry all the time, and trying to make a permanent lifestyle change. If I wanted to lose it as quickly as possible, I would have just gotten the surgery when my doctor suggested it. And yes, I could be losing it a little faster than I have been, because I have once again spent another month off the diet program. It hasn't quite been as bad a month as April was, but the month of July has not been a roaring success, either.

I'm back up to 228 pounds.

I'm not happy about it, but I knew I was making bad choices when I made them all month long, and I knew this would be the result. July is over, so I will now refocus again and move on.

July also marks the end of my parking experiment. When I started this last summer, I was parking fairly close to my office in the lot out back, on top of the parking garage. I moved from a space as close to the door as possible to one as far from the door as possible while still being in the lot:

Parking maps (1)

In that photo, one yellow dot is my office, and the other yellow dot is my parking space. In this photo, I would be parked right next to the white sign that's a little right of center, way out there away from the building:

Out back (1)

This worked really well for a while, but then two things happened. First, other people started parking out there, too, and sometimes they took the furthest away space, which I began to think of as my space. They even mentioned it: "You're just so inspirational that we thought we'd all start parking out there, too!" I guess that's a good thing, but it was also a frustrating thing. I'm glad that other people are making positive changes in their life, but taking all of the good spaces was having a negative impact on my life and on my mood. That's when the second thing happened: One day I was seething internally about someone taking my space, and I looked to my right.

Out Back (2)

"Look at all those extra spaces in the student lot. I could park so much further away if those weren't student spots. Then the light bulb over my head went on. "They're not student spots downstairs in the garage."

And so I moved to a space in the parking garage, marked here by a red dot:

Parking maps (2)

Look how far that is! That's almost twice as far as the spot on top of the garage. Unfortunately, it was the darkest corner of the parking garage:

in the garage (2)

far, far from the door:

in the garage (1)

where the light has been burned out for over six months despite being reported:

in the garage (3)

For a while, this worked really well. Parking there, and walking up six flights of stairs and four hallways plus the distance walking through the garage itself was giving me a solid half mile of steps one way and a solid half mile the other way. I was getting a free mile, just walking to and from the car, and that seemed fantastic at first, but then it started to cause trouble with my friends who wanted to go off campus for lunch. Some days they didn't have cars, so if I had to drive everyone had to walk as far as possible to get to my space. I got over that quickly, but the comments continued, and one day my friend Meghan said, "I can't believe the ridiculous distance you insist on parking. You might as well just park on the Ag Campus."

The lightbulb over my head (but not the one over my car) went on again.

"What if I did park in some other parking lot, even further away?"

I convinced myself that parking on the Ag Campus was just crazy, because it was insanely far away, but I did eventually decide to start trying the lot by the rec center.

Parking maps (3)

For about a week I parked there at the green dot, but then they put up this sign:

Rec Center parking

and I felt guilty. While I technically did have the permit required to park there, what if I was taking a space that one of my friends who worked there needed, and they were being forced to park further away against their will? I felt like I should move, but I was really enjoying the extra walking. I was running into students that I don't see otherwise fairly regularly, I was enjoying some decompression and fresh air on the way to and from the car, and it was only about fifteen minutes of walking time. I didn't want to stop parking somewhere else, but I felt like I did need to stop parking by the rec center, and one day when I was walking to my car I thought, "Wait, isn't there another staff lot down the street, there?"

toward the last parking space

"Maybe just past that fence?"

There was, so I began parking in the westernmost staff spot on the main campus:

the far west spot

Parking maps (4)

That blue dot was as far away as I could get, and for a while I was happy, but then I upped my daily step goal on my Fitbit, and realized that I wasn't parking far enough.

"Now where can I go?"

I looked around, but I was at the edge of campus.

the bridge (1)

The only thing I could do was cross the bridge:

the bridge (2)

and park on the Ag Campus.

So I did.

Parking maps (5)

For almost three weeks I parked on the Ag Campus every day, unless I was running late. It was like parking in a whole other world. The Ag Campus is full of little benches, and quiet spots. There are all these little plaques everywhere that tell you what the trees and flowers are:

Plant sign

Parking on the Ag Campus was educational. They even have prehistoric burial mound, right there by my car!

prehistoric mound

Best of all, the parking space on the Ag Campus was over a mile from my car, one way. It was almost a mile and a half. It was golden, and I was only parking at the front of the lot, closest to the street. I could be even further away if I wanted to!


I want to, but I can't.

I thought long and hard about this over the weekend, and had to admit to myself that parking at the Ag Campus every day has not been a good thing for two main reasons.

First, it takes a half hour to walk there. That means I'm spending an hour every day just walking to and from my car, and I'm doing it in full work dress while carrying my work bag and sometimes in shoes that are not good for walking a mile at a time. Because of that, and because of the number of crosswalks I have to wait at, it takes me the same amount of time that I could cover two miles in on the greenway or even on the treadmill.

Second, it's July in Tennessee. Maybe you haven't visited, but it's very hot and very humid. By the time I reach the office, even walking slowly, I am a sweaty mess. I've sweated through my shirt back and spent the entire walk blotting my forehead with a handkerchief. My undershirt smells like sweat all day long, even after it dries, and the whole situation is just not good.

As such, my parking experiment is over, and I'm moving back to the space in the garage.

But I'm bringing my bag of walking clothes, so that I can change before leaving and walk the greenway on my way home.


leonor said...

I loved the illustrative maps on this post!

go Joel!

Marcheline said...

Hey Joel - great getting back to focus! I have officially started getting back in shape, as well - I'm going to the gym on M/W/F and doing power yoga at home (thanks to Rodney Yee dvds) on T/TH/SA. Sunday is my day of rest, and I'm so sore by Sunday I really do need that 24 hours to get my groove back.

I used to try to walk and do exercise things at work, but like you mentioned, the sweat factor makes it really uncomfortable to me personally, and I hate to be "that person" who stinks of sweat at work and everyone else has to be around it.

So I determined to compartmentalize, and it has worked for me. I work when I'm at work, and I work out when I am working out. When you work out at a gym, you can get the same or more steps in a much quicker time using the treadmill, elliptical, or whatever. Plus, the weights are helping to build muscle mass which burn fat more quickly and efficiently.

A good home option (if you don't want to do yoga) is to get one of those small individual trampolines. You can jog on a mini-trampoline to your favorite music, while you watch TV, or whatever, and it absolutely gives you the cardio you need to get your heart conditioned and your steps in. It's lightweight, way cheaper than a home treadmill, has no moving parts to break, and you can put it in different places so you're not always looking at the same scenery while you jog.

This is just what works for me - if August in Tennessee is anything like August on Long Island (it's much hotter, I know because I used to live in Nashville) you might consider some of these options.

Justin Bower said...

It doesn't matter where you park, the Night Janitor will find you in the end.

That being said, Ag campus sounds pretty awesome.