Friday, August 24, 2012

Progress and frustration

I'm now closing in on the one-month mark of my "cardiac event". That's a nice way the medical types use to refer to a heart attack, which happened to me on July 27th.

So far, both stents are doing what they are designed to do with no side effects and follow-up tests (EKG, ultrasounds, etc) indicate that there's no permanent damage to my heart. Praise God for that!

The progress is that the cardiac rehab is going well. I'm not back to the level of exercise I was doing just a few months before"event" but I'm far stronger than I was when I first started a couple weeks go. I guess I think I'm stronger than I really am, though.

More about that in a moment.

I did pack on some pounds recently. I was out of the gym for the most part from late May to early August. Before that, I was working out 3-5 days a week and working out pretty hard, focusing on weight circuits to both tone up and trim down after many years of weight lifting and little cardio.

But, that approach has changed this month. Now I'm doing almost all cardio workouts. It is working...check out this comparison:

I was just over 220 pounds the day of the attack. I'm now just under 210. It's not a huge difference yet, but it's a start.
I am eating better. I thought I was eating well before but now know that just because a frozen meal has the word "Healthy" in it's brand name doesn't make it good for you. I never worried about salt/sodium before - but those things are often loaded with it.

I've switched to fresh and frozen veggies and I'm now - ugh - cooking the meats myself and am trading out pastas for brown rice or baked potatoes. (side note - top the 'tater with plain Greek yogurt instead of butter & sour's really good...)

OK, now the frustration.

I never did go through the depression the hospital said I would after the attack. I guess I just recognize that this happened for a reason and God's doing something to me or through me with it. I'm not going to whine about it.

I have found myself frustrated with how far behind this has set me when it comes to being athletic and in terms of my personal strength. Remember, I was planning to start Shaun T's Insanity workout program just three days later when it all happened.

This morning, while trying to push myself on the elliptical machine, one of the nurses in the cardiac rehab center got on my case "You need to slow down. That's too many steps per're going to raise your heart rate too much."

She was cheating because she looked at the computer screen. They have me hooked up to that little electrical octopus-looking contraption that measures my heart rate and other vital signs in real time.

I felt fine and know that I'll have to go all out for three minutes at a time if I do ever get strong enough to try Insanity. I'm just trying to move forward and get back in shape.

"Slow down!"

Grrrr......fine. I'll slow down. A little. For now.

Then, after my cardio workout, she said those sweet, sweet words I've been wanting to hear from her for a couple weeks now: "Do you want to do some free weights?"

I thought you'd never ask.

I was so excited to get back to some weight training. I camped out at the weight rack area while she finished up getting blood pressure readings for one of the octogenarians on a treadmill.

When she was done, she came over and got me started on my "weight training" by handing me....two five-pound dumbbells.

Five pounds.

Seriously? I''ve got books at home that weigh more than that. Five pounds?

It's hard to concentrate on your arm curls...that I was doing with 30-pounders a few months ago...with little more than a Q-Tip on steroids as my resistance. She wasn't budging, though. If I wanted to do this, I was doing it with the dumbbell that she was ok with. Not the one I was ok with.

So I did the routine in all of three or four minutes and called it a day at the gym.

Patience is not my strong suit, obviously. This leads me to Romans 5:1-5.

1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulations worketh patience. 4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

So, my question for you: what trouble, trial or difficulty ("tribulation") are you experiencing that you may be viewing incorrectly?

God may not be punishing you. He may be strengthening you or preparing you for something later in life.

He may be putting you through a tough time because someone else needs to see you remain strong in faith and needs to learn from your journey through it.

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