Saturday, April 10, 2010

Walk(man) On the Wild Side

So I joined the Isolation Generation the other night--I bought myself an mp3 player, a Sony Walkman NWZS545RED 16 GB Video MP3 Player (Red), to be precise:

Yeah, I know; all the cool kids have tiny little iPods of one sort or another, but I gotta tell ya, I don't trust Apple worth a hoot in Hell, especially for the prices they want to charge--far too often they've demonstrated they're perfectly willing to screw the consumer without benefit of lube and then laugh about it behind closed doors (I speak from experience). Sure, they're innovative, they've got cool products, cool ads, and cool designs, but let something go wrong and you'll be re-enacting the Basement Scene from Pulp Fiction with no hope of rescue by Bruce Willis.

But enough of that. Perhaps you're wondering why I bought a portable mp3 player at all, since I'm the one who rants at every opportunity about the ever-increasing loss of connectivity among and/or between people, about the gradual, inexorable, and subtle experience of isolation and alienation from The Real World that seems to characterize life in 21st-Century America.

Oh, right. That's probably just me now that I'm deep into Old Fartdom.

So anyway, I went to see my doctor (oops! I mean my Primary Care Provider. Damn, my age is showing again!) last month--well, actually, I saw my nurse-practitioner; I haven't actually seen my doctor since 2006. He's always off doing something else with other patients (curse this Brave New World! I mean clients.). No particular reason, just that they hadn't seen me since July of 2009 and they thought it might be a good idea for me to come in for a check-up. Long story short:

Blood Pressure--high
Triglycerides--high (high enough to make it impossible to get an accurate reading of LDL vs. HDL)
Blood glucose--high normal (obscurant way of saying the upper end of the acceptable range)
Vitamin D levels--normal... maybe*
Mental Status--Dysthymia bordering on major depressive disorder
Bottom Line--at high risk for heart attack and stroke

Well, duh! I mean, I don't go anywhere or do anything (besides work), I rarely see anyone outside of work, I'm a Master of the Sedentary Arts (ever wonder why I'm a boundless fount of useless trivia? Three things: books, television, and the Internet), sleep is my favorite indoor sport, I have a distinct affinity for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods (the imminent launch of the KFC Double Down--cheese, bacon, and sauce between two pieces of fried chicken--gives me and Homer Simpson equally large hard-ons), I work a crappy, low-paying job**, my father's dead, my mother has Alzheimer's, I smoke... I'd list more except it sounds like I'm having a Pity Party over here. Really, I'm not. My point is none of this is a surprise to me; I'm not that far into denial (I want to be, but I'm not. damn it.).

So, okay, some of these things are easily changed through medication (I'm now taking Wellbutrin, Lovaza, and a once-weekly Vitamin D supplement), diet (Crom help me, I'm now rarely eating meat, especially not "red meat," and am switching over to high-fiber, low glycemic foods***), and exercise.


People, I'm about as athletically-challenged as they come: graceless, uncoordinated, unmotivated, undisciplined, don't like to sweat...

However, for the most part I don't mind walking and, yeah, that's not the most strenuous of activities, but a fella's gotta start somewhere. For the past two weeks I've been taking a brisk evening stroll around the streets of Richmond for at least thirty minutes and, additionally, trying not to use the car for quick trips to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the local used-book or record stores (there's that pesky age thing again, but what else should I call it?), etc.

Problem is, it's boooooooring**** and I know myself; if I don't keep myself amused I'll shift back to those things that do amuse me--books, tv, Internet--until the neighbors start to complain about the strange smell emanating from my apartment ("He was a quiet guy, seemed all right, kept to himself... it's a shame something ate his face before the police found his body. At least his cat's okay. Kinda fat, though").

Enter the Sony Walkman NWZS545RED 16GB Video MP3 Player (Red). Oh, YEAH, baby! Load that sucker up with my favorite songs and albums, set it to "shuffle," and I don't care if I'm wandering around the Third Circle of Hell; I'm perfectly oblivious and content!

Couple of things, though:
1) Bursting into song at random intervals while struttin' behind the numerous dog-walkers on my street is, uh, "inimical to good fellowship". Especially if the lyrics are a bit...odd.

2) As is breaking out the air instruments during the guitar solo in "Stairway to Heaven" or drum solo in "Wipe Out." Makes the neighbors nervous.

All in all, though, it's been worth the money. I look forward to my evening walks, plan on weekend excursions deep into Forest Hill Park, and I'm rediscovering music I haven't thought about in years.

Oh, and I've lost ten pounds.

*This is a new thing some doctors are doing. Apparently, there is a school of thought that says what has traditionally been defined as a "normal" level is approximately half the optimal level, so I'm "normal" or "deficient" (as is most of the industrialized world) depending upon your point of view.

**I'm reminded of a Drew Carey quote: "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."

***Is there any subject more loaded with emotion, politics, myth, and misinformation than what to eat? In trying to formulate a diet to lower my triglycerides I'm often finding myself overwhelmed with contradictory information, some bordering on pure ju-ju. These are my current guidelines, should you be interested, though I find some of them a tad rigid (No more than 3 oz. of cooked meat, fish or whatever, per week? Not gonna happen.). The best advice I've found is from Michael Pollan: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It's a little more complicated than that, but only a little.

Oh, and don't get me started on "dietary supplements"; that's where things become really weird. I ain't waving a dead, free-range, tofu chicken over nuthin'.

****Leg-hurting and blister-inducing, too. Didn't realize I had no shoes suitable for anything beyond the occasional 10-minute walk. 'Course, my weight doesn't help matters, either, but still. Eventually I hope to develop some calluses but for the moment I'm that guy, the overweight middle-aged man walking around in socks and sandals.


Cathy VanPatten said...

I support you in your efforts! Jeff used to turn his nose up at my discman (yes--it was THAT long ago when I began running... and now I'm all set to take it up yet again for what? The 4th or 5th time? LOL!), because "real runners don't run to music." Nonsense. Real runners run. Real walkers walk. If listening to tunes motivates us to exercise, then there's nothing wrong with it!

By the way, several years ago I shifted to an iPod mini (now hopelessly outdated, but still working just fine!), and it is the best walking/running partner I could ever hope for.

Congrats on the weight loss! You're forcing me to start exercising again, you realize...

G. W. Ferguson said...

Yeah, I used to be kind of snotty about the near-ubiquity of the Walkman and its bastard kin--"PAY ATTENTION TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU, DOTARDS!"--until I realized they served a valuable purpose: "Ignore that blister on your heel, forget your lack of breath and pounding heart, lose yourself in the soothing music and KEEP 'EFFIN' MOVIN'!"

I stand properly chastised and when the day comes we uncover the Waynesboro-Staunton Cave System we can crawl through all 30 mi. accompanied by The Ball Turret Gunners.

I gather the older iPods were nigh-on indestructible. The newer models? Not so much if I'm to believe the reviews.

Cathy VanPatten said...

Well, I know my little blue mini is pretty tough. I like the looks of the tiny nanos, and I love the idea of the clip on shuffles, but mine does just fine for now.

Of course, if all goes according to Jeff's master plan (we buy the new incarnation of the iPhone come June or whenever they hit the market), the phone can do the job of the iPod and so much more. But I really worry about tripping and dropping THAT thing. A tad more expensive to replace!

Turdzilla said...

I cut out all sugar for a month. stopped drinking liquor daily. stopped eating meat entirely. the sad thing is after all of this I only lost ten pounds so it hardly seemed worth it. I'm going to get back to a reasonable amount of meat here now. i broke my food-fast at red lobster yesterday. On a serious note- look into meditation if you can figure out what that is. This is how i am able to overcome desire as a Buddhist. its all about desire, what we shove in our food hole. email me on myspace if you want help figuring out what Buddhism and meditation is, you can't understand this by reading about it(conceptual mind)

JSaM said...

Good for you Lee (a little late with this), it's never too late! You're gonna have to try harder though, I've got THREE hypertensive "cures" HCTZ, Atenolol, and benazapryl. Dad's got a Claudication, aka, PAD, which leaves his legs in painful cramps after walking a block or so. Now that scares me, the idea of being unhealthy and unable to do much about it. In the long run, I think Dr Wizard (oooh I meant Dr. Oz)has the right idea- that health care reform, whether from the Left or the Right, won't work unless we take responsibility for our own health. Sounds like you got a good start!