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April 17, 2006

The part of life I am not ready for

The past nine days of my life have been stressful and scary, to say the very least. I'm just now coming down off of my stress high, and I'm looking forward to a week of my normal routine and getting my life back on schedule.

My stepmother called last Saturday night to let me know that my father had suffered a mild heart attack. Apparently, he had been having telltale signs for a couple of days - the aching of the arm, the pressure on the chest - and he finally gave in to her nagging and agreed to go to the doctor. He was starting to get scared, I guess. While he didn't have a sudden attack, blood tests revealed that a heart attack had occurred, and the doctors checked him into the hopsital in New Bern and scheduled a cardio catheterization for him two days later on Monday. We all felt lucky that he hadn't had a major attack up to this point, and we felt optimistic about the what the catheterization would show.

The results of the catheterization showed that dad had three blocked arteries, and the doctors were recommending triple-bypass surgery. They scheduled him for Wednesday morning, and my fears were kicking into high gear when I heard this. I was overcome by the emotion of possibly losing my dad.

Let me just say that parental mortality sucks. Suddenly, the realization that my parents won't be alive forever - even though I have known this as long as I have known that death is a part of life - was right there in my face. I was now very anxious to visit with Dad and spend some time with him. I also volunteered myself to go to the beach and work at the Big Oak, figuring anything I could do to decrease his worrying and stress about the restaurant's operations over a holiday weekend would be a good thing and hopefully would ease his mind. My sister offered me a place to spend the night - she lives 45 minutes away in New Bern - and I agreed. We didn't want to put any additional stress on my stepmother while she took care of my dad after the surgery, and this was a good chance for us to be sisters to one another, which is a rare thing in itself.

I drove to New Bern on Tuesday to visit with my father, and I decided I would return the following day to wait with my family as Dad's triple bypass was performed. My sister and my stepmother and my uncles and a long-time friend of my father's were all there on Wednesday. Family becomes clearly defined in moments of uncertainty, and I felt hopeful that perhaps we weren't as fractured as sometimes it seems that we are. It was good to talk and visit with my uncles and feel that underlying family tie and connection to Dad.

Within two hours, Dad's nurse came into the waiting room to tell us that the bypass had been successful, and the doctors were now finishing up the operation. I breathed a sigh of relief, as my worst fear of something going wrong during the surgery had just been overcome. Just a couple of hours later, my sister and I were able to go into the ICU and see Dad. He was in a sedated sleep state, but we could touch him and talk to him and see that his color had returned and his lips were rosy. He looked fantastic to me, considering what he had just been through. After talking to my stepmother a bit more, I left the hospital and returned to Raleigh with a lot of relief.

I worked Thursday and was off of work on Friday (the College was closed), so I was able to do laundry and clean up around the house and prepare for my weekend of working. Jon and I left around 7 a.m. Saturday and headed to the coast. On the way, we stopped by the hopsital to see my father, and he was doing extremely well. It was good to see him and talk to him about everything, and my spirit was renewed.

I worked 12 hours this weekend - certainly not a lot but definitely more than I'm used to working on weekends. It was continuous and steady (and hot and greasy) work, and after 12 hours of filling orders of shrimpburgers and cheeseburgers and fries and drinks, I was ready to return home. When I did get home, I learned that Dad had been dicharged from the hospital and was finally back at home himself. It's great to see him making such terrific progress.

If I ever needed motivation to keep on track with my diet and exercise, I certainly have it now. I also hope that my Dad will take his second chance and do the things he needs to do to keep himself healthy. While parental mortality is inevitable, I'd like to keep him around as long as possible. There are some things I'm not ready to deal with just yet.

April 05, 2006

The weight is worth it

About a month ago, I added working out with weights to my workout routine. I decided that I would do weights three times a week at the fitness center on campus, resistance training at Curves three times a week and walk when I could fit it into my schedule. I'm still figuring out the cardio portion, and I think I may rejoin the campus aerobics class on Monday and Wednesday nights and use the cardio machines at the fitness center as an alternative. Perhaps then I'll have the perfect schedule that is easily achievable.

I started thinking about weights around the first of March. We have a range of dumbbells at the house, and I mentioned to Jon that I wanted to start looking on Craigslist for a weight bench to buy so that I could have all the essentials for working out at home. I started peeking to see what was out there, but I realized all too quickly that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on said bench.

And then the funniest thing happened: I was driving to Curves one day with my daughter, and while taking my usual shortcut through a nearby neighborhood, I spotted a weight bench sitting on the edge of the lot. I decided that if the bench was still there on my drive home that I would pick it up. Here is video of me driving back through and spotting the bench again:

It was destiny! So I picked it up, brought it home and cleaned it up. It's now sitting in our office/workout room/spare room upstairs. I haven't even used it yet - no need at this point with the fitness center being open and all, but it will come in handy when the fitness center schedule changes and I can no longer find convenient times to workout (this is the biggest issue of having a free fitness center on campus - you can only go when there are no classes and the schedule changes all the time). Thing is, though - I took this as a sign that I was on the right track and that weight training is what I needed to do.

So I've been at it for roughly three weeks now. It would be four weeks now, but last week I was vacationing in Miami and didn't do ANYTHING related to working out unless you count me walking through the airport terminal carrying heavy luggage as exercise. But now, I am already starting to see some changes in my muscle tone.

In addition, this week Jon and I are attempting to pack lunch and eat healthier in general, and doing this has me feeling positive and energetic and quite excited about the changes I'm starting to see. Food is always the hardest part for me, and while it's just as cheap for me to eat across the street at the campus dining hall ($4 for whatever I want - a great deal), I have an extremely difficult time wtih portion control. So bringing my lunch and some healthy snacks will certainly be a positive change for me. Now I just have to keep it up.

My hope is that this combination is what will work for me. I believe I will see results faster and that are better for me than gauging my success by the number that pops up when I step onto the scale. And maybe then I won't lose my motivation to continue eating right and doing what I need to do to get fit. If anything, I'm proud of myself for sticking with my workouts. My New Year's resolution is intact, and my will remains strong. Go me!

Oddly enough, one of the other factors that has really helped me stay on track is buying new clothes. I am not one for shopping and splurging a lot of money on new clothes and shoes, so my wardrobe has been monotonous and boring for many years. I've started to change the way I look at clothing, and I understand now that if I feel good in what I am wearing - regardless of the size - that I will want to continue feeling that way. I'm exploring my more confident side, and wearing things that make me feel this way is a positive step for me. My old mentality was that I would buy this type of clothing when I lost weight/was thinner/smaller/etc. It starts now.

This is an aha! moment for me. I feel the progress being made!

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