Getting Into the Routine

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Getting Into the Routine

It all started sometime last fall.

My back is now a shadow of its former rigid, upright self.  There’s nobody to blame, it’s all my own doing.  Years and years of being a news photographer, carrying anywhere from 70-100 pounds of gear around every day, that is what did it.  There are ways, for sure, that will lessen that burden and make sure you don’t get injured.

I didn’t do any of those.  I was young, stupid, and I thought I was invincible.  Yeah…I wasn’t.  My 40-something self is paying the price for the mistakes of my 20-something self.

So last year, in the throngs of another bout of my back going bad they asked for another MRI.  The doctor looked at the images and asked “did you have a job where you carried around a bunch of stuff?”  How right they were.

See…your back is supposed to have evenly-spaced distances between each of the vertebrae.  Mine however, seems to telescope.  The farther down you go the narrower the distance.  The last two discs are bulging out from the pressure from those crushing bones.  At their worst the right side of my right leg goes numb.  In fact, that’s its general state nowadays.

There’s no fixing it.  Kind of like a spoon when you bend it . . . your back never really goes back to the way it was before.  “Degenerative disc disorder” was the exact name.  The doctor gave me the harsh reality: it won’t get better…but you can stop it from getting worse.  And it will get worse if you’re not careful.

The biggest issue was weight.  I had to lose it.  Pure and simple.  In spite of all the friends and colleagues who scoffed and said “please, you’re so skinny!” they hadn’t seen me before.  For most my life I’d been much, much lighter and carried far less in my stomach.

So it began.

My routine started at 5 of 5:30 in the morning.  First it was walking, then turned to partially, gently jogging/running.  My routine became to get my heart pumping, using energy, then slow it down and burn what fat I could.

It’s not a quick process, but I wasn’t doing this for speed.

The result, though, was a twofold success.  First, I’m healthier.  I started eating little or no red meat, not because I don’t like it.  I’m a Midwesterner, we love our steak, brisket, hamburgers, etc.  No, it was because I just wanted to lower the cholesterol and reduce the amount of fat I was eating.

The secondary part, which I hadn’t realized, was that my kids saw me working at it.  Every morning, without fail.  I cooked better meals, they ate different things, and they started to think . . . maybe they should get up and move, too.  My oldest daughter gets up and runs at the high school track when I head to work.  My middle is running when she’s visiting her grandparents.

I ended up having to buy new clothes, closer to the size I was when I met my wife so many years ago.

It’s a routine, and make no mistake, I really don’t enjoy exercising.  I dislike it.  I know so many people who love to run, be one with the wind and the ground and feel the impact of shoe leather to pavement.

I don’t.  I can’t say it’s my enjoyment.  But that’s okay.  I do it because I should, there’s a task, a goal, and a reason.  With that, I see my kids are getting the idea as well.

That . . . I have to admit . . . is enjoyable.

That makes the whole routine worth it.

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