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Exercise

The Wordslinger Diet

Being a writer and a Creative Director is a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, fraught with overlap. M'bellly overlappin' m'belt, mostly. So, like the rest of the Western World, as of 1 January I started doing things that I hoped would help me trim up. Not unusual, and not my first time. But this go, I decided to skip the "resolutions," and instead make a commitment to changing my actual lifestyle. Instead of dieting, I set up a system that lets me eat what I want and still knock off the pounds. No willpower required. Here's what I've put together — 


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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less of me - 257.8

I'm consuming enough of this now that I should be able to burn hotter than the sun for a few seconds. No one light any matches.With all the video posts lately I bet you forgot that I’m actually the “Wordslinger” and not the “Videoslinger,” didn’t you? Yes? No? It’s no, isn’t it. 

Well, it’s been over a week since my big announcement that I’m making less of myself, and that means I owe you an update of the updatiest variety. 

So last week, I weighted in at a hefty and bulging 265. I was getting out of breath just typing that entry, and I had the aroma of chicken wings about me. Today, though, I can proudly proclaim that I am at a still-slightly-bulgy but working-toward-dainty 257.8. I’m throwing the “.8” in there in the interest of honesty, but the truth is I just drop that tiny little sucker altogether in my head, so I can go around saying, “Yeah, I lost 8 pounds this week. Yeah. I’m that guy.”

Whew! To be honest, I was half afraid when I posted last Monday that I would end up GAINING weight. After all, Kara and I flew to Colorado on Friday for a weekend full of family fun and food frolicking. I was worried that after a few days of travel-eating I’d put back any weight I had managed to shed. But I did try to keep to things like chicken and fish while I was away, and even though I overdid it a couple of times, I more or less kept the calorie count down. I had just one measly mojito in the booze column, too, and I’m pretty sure that helped. 

Oh … and the Aztec Quesadilla Burger. Yeesh. That little beauty was about 1,600 calories all by itself. For those who may be Kevin Spotting, that’s as many calories as I tend to eat in a day right about now. Luckily, I had that huge hunk of deliciousness on a day when I hadn’t had much to eat for breakfast and zero to eat for lunch. Besides, it was Saturday. I’m retroactively making Saturdays my “day off.”

So here’s what I’m doing so far:

  • Light breakfast, usually a banana and an orange
  • Plain ol’ coffee (regular brewed most of the time, an Americano if I’m hitting an espresso bar)
  • Keep my calories under 1,600 per day
  • Exercise (which lets me buffer some “extra” calories), mostly hitting the bike every morning for about an hour and taking a walk in the afternoon for about 40 minutes
  • Drink more water
  • Eat less sugar
  • Eat lots of fish, chicken, and vegetables
  • Take magnesium tablets

That last one probably begs for some ‘splainin. I read about the benefits of getting enough magnesium in your diet, and some of those are pretty relevant to me. Muscle cramps are something I tend to have an issue with, for example.  It also helps “alleviate heart disturbances,” which is kind of vague, but considering my ticker has it’s own backup battery I’ll take any help I can get. It lowers high blood pressure (another Kevin need). It helps cut down cravings for sugar, booze, etc.  It helps calm anxiety. And it helps regulate insulin, sugar levels, excess sweating, cortisol levels, and a bunch of other stuff.

Basically, I don’t get enough of this stuff in my diet, so I suffer from about 2/3 of the things it helps prevent.

Magnesium gets depleted from your body thanks to stress, high sugar intake, and (wait for it) … coffee. Dammit. I probably chug down enough brew to keep my magnesium levels at effectively zero. And that stresses me out. I’m going to eat this entire box of candy bars.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for this to become the “all hail magnesium” entry, but there it is for ya. Magnesium. It fixes you.

So the weight loss thing continues. The first ten pounds are usually “easy” to lose, so I’m not going to get all hyper about it or anything. But know that I am dancing the happy dance of pantslessness on the inside. I anticipate that many more pounds will fall screaming into the abyss. And those that don’t will wish they had never been born.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

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35 beats per minute

About a year-and-a-half ago I went into a doctor's office thinking I had a bad chest cold.

The thing is, I'm not the "go to the doctor" type. In fact, I pretty much never see a doctor unless something is hanging off of me that would better serve me by being attached, or copious amounts of "inside fluids" are suddenly becoming "outside fluids." So for me to even consider going in for a chest cold should tell you that I had more than the sniffles and a bit of congestion. Think in terms of absolute lethargy, an inability to exert myself for more than a few minutes at a time, and an impending sense of doom.

The big surprise for me was when they checked my pulse and found that it was around 35 beats per minute.

"Yeah, my heart rate has always been low," I said, nonchalantly-in-complete-and-utter-denial.

"Are you an Olympic-class athlete?" my doctor asked.

"Not unless fried chicken is an competitive event."

"Then we have a problem, Mr. Tumlinson."

"Please," I said, "call me Ishmael."

OK, no, I didn't say that. I may have thought it, though. But at that moment, I think I was more focused on the "problem." An excruciating bit of worry started to chew at my insides. But on the plus side, my heart rate and blood pressure "shot up" to near normal levels. Now all I'd have to do is live under complete and continuous stress and I'd have a perfectly healthy amount of energy and vigor. Clearly no harm there.

The short version of this story is this: After some stress tests, EKGs, ultrasounds and blood work it was determined that I was absolutely, positively fine. Except for the heretofore undiagnosed congenital heart defect which was causing an ever-worsening bradycardia (gradual slowing of the heart) as I aged, and would eventually lead to my death, probably within the next few months.

The solution was for me, at 37 years old, to go under the knife and have a pacemaker installed. I was apparently "batteries not included."

For the next year or so I recovered from the surgery and started to get my strength and stamina up. It was a slow process, and in many ways it is still ongoing. But I did manage, in that time, to drop about 30 pounds, to stop wheezing when I took a flight of stairs, and to actually become a bit more active and energetic. Times were gettin' good.

More energy is great. A bit of weight loss is great. But I still have moments where I feel a bit exhausted and lethargic, and I still have a good 20 or 30 pounds of extra "me" hanging over my belt. I'm not as "out of the woods" as I'd really like to be. So that's why I've started being more active.

I do not do gyms. They're a blatant rip-off, frankly. Most want you to sign some ridiculous contract that auto-renews with or without your permission, obligating you to an auto-draft of an exorbitant monthly rate for the occasional use of their facilities, which are nice and clean and sometimes very modern, but still a place you have to force yourself to attend. Most  gyms, as well, require you to have a credit card on file, with or without a contract. I still don't get the "give me your credit card, we have no contract" gyms. I have the sneaky suspicion that they are paying for porn while I'm sweating and grunting in another room. And that just ain't fair. I can't compete with that.

I prefer to get my workout from things I actually find fun and engaging. Or at the very least the activities have to make some kind of sense to me.

If I'm going to run, I want to get some place and maybe see a bit of nature and God's creation sprawling out around me, as opposed to running on a treadmill for an hour watching a sub-titled soap opera on a hanging television screen. If I'm going to ride a bike, I want to have the reward of zipping past joggers and people working in their lawns and dodging the spray of lawn sprinklers, as opposed to dodging the rain of sweat flinging from the grunting guy on the treadmill next to me. And if I'm going to lift weights, I'd rather hoist my own hefty butt up the side of a rock wall or over a boulder, as opposed to laying in a pool of some other guy's funk while I push a metal bar up and down, over and over, mostly praying it doesn't slip and crush my windpipe.

Call me a radical hippie.

The thing is, even though I've always liked the whole "the world is my gym" attitude, I've been stupidly lax about actually getting out there and using it. Until now.

Recently I've started taking on some new challenges. I've started rock climbing. I bought a bike and I ride most mornings. I've started walking and sprinting. I'm slowly adding more and more actual activity to my lifestyle.

It is kicking my butt. I may need some kind of intervention.

The truth is, I'm enjoying the things I'm getting into, and I'm seeing some positive results. I'm not getting the svelte, slender body I was hoping for, but then I'm not as consistent as I should be, I tend to fall off the wagon on keeping my calorie intake low, and I've only been doing this for a couple of months. Lifestyle changes ... they're so friggin' slow.

One thing that annoys me is when people say, "It took you 38 years to get into the condition you're in now. Just think about it that way."

This is an invitation for a savage beating.

OK, maybe not. I do understand that these folks mean well, and they're trying to be encouraging. And I do my best to take it that way. But the truth is, this being fat and lazy thing didn't happen to me over a span of decades. I was actually in very good shape right up until my late 20s. Which, perhaps coincidentally, is about the time my doctors think my heart started slowing to the point of causing me some issues. So the reality of my life is that in a relatively short period of time I went from slim and fit to fat and lazy. I'd say the responsibility for that was 60% heart, 30% fried chicken, and 10% natural-born laziness.

No excuses.

I'm working on lifestyle changes these days. I learn things, I try things, I succeed, I fail, I try again. I'm looking for activities and relationships that get me out there in the world, staying fit by having a blast. I'm looking at getting to the point where I play so hard I don't even recognize it as exercise anymore.

So, in a lot of ways, getting a pacemaker is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a second chance. And the only requirement, the only responsibility I have to live up to, is "do something."

I can do that.


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Tip in any amount you like, safely and securely via PayPal (no PayPal account requred). And thank you in advance for your generosity!


____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

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Sticks, Rocks & Fried Chicken

Exercise and me, we've never been toasting good friends. Sure, when I was in my early 20s I ran two to three miles per day. I would jog along the back roads near where I grew up, or bounce around the track that rings the Sweeny High School football field. Sometimes I might give the winding, tree-lined walking trail a try. I had a good rhythm for it, and it paid dividends in the form a buttocks that could crush walnuts, and brought unsolicited compliments from female friends and acquaintances. Yes, yes.

Somewhere along the way my heart started working against me. The bradycardia I developed as a result of some undiagnosed birth defect started dragging me down. My heart was literally skipping a beat, and the intervals were getting bigger, so oxygen was starting to become a scarce commodity in Kevinopolis. My energy levels were starting to suffer. So was my waist line. In the span of just five years I went from a trim physique to a bulbous mass. Of course, I can't blame all of that on the bradycardia. There was fried chicken involved. Oh so much fried chicken.

Then, in 2010, when my condition was diagnosed and a nifty new pacemaker was installed, I started my long road to recovery. Long, mostly because I took my time getting on it. Once the stitches had been removed and I had gotten an OK from my cardiologist, I was free to change my deep-fried ways and get my behind on a treadmill. I declined.

I continued to decline for the next year, gleefully stuffing my gullet with every fattening fried food I could find. I had newfound energy, you see. My heart was working better, and now I could approach food with all new vigor.

I did this until I was told I had shockingly high blood pressure, and my doctor put me on meds.

That would not do.

Blood pressure medication has always been a symbol for me. Sure, I had pacemaker now. And sure, I was overweight, and my joints ached, and I was slowing down in nearly every conceivable way. There was a vague notion in the back of my mind that I was "getting old." At 38, I think this was a bit premature. But one accepts such things. One suffers on.

But blood pressure meds? Suddenly the message did a tsunami rush from the back of my mind to my frontal lobe. "Holy crap I'm getting old," I thought. "I have to do something about that."

There is nothing wrong with taking blood pressure medication. Some people absolutely must take it. It helps keep them alive. But c'mon. We all know ... I knew ... what was causing my BP to skyrocket. It wasn't a genetic pre-disposition or a side effect of something I had no control over. It was buckets of fried chicken for every meal. It was limiting my exercise to shifting my fat ass around in my chair while I watched TV. It was any number of really bad decisions on my part. And that, my brain finally accepted, simply would not do.

I determined I would get off of the meds. And I figured the best way to do that would be to lose a whole bunch of weight. So I went on a severely low-calorie diet, limiting my calories to about 1,500 calories per day. I increased my intake of vegetables by a factor of a billion (easy to do from zero). I started walking each day, hitting the treadmill when it was raining, and even using some resistance bands and free weights. I started taking vitamins and drinking lots and lots and lots of water (and some apple cider vinegar).

It worked. Beautifully. After about three months I was already seeing significant weight loss. I was also feeling better. Loads better. Much more energetic, much happier, much more fit. I was doing great. And people were starting to notice. But best of all, I was able to ween myself off of the blood pressure meds. I win.

When we bought our house and I started renovating I changed my diet a bit. I started eating fast food again, but I tried to keep it to light stuff. I made good choices -- as good as possible, anyway. But despite that, I did start gaining again. Not much. A few pounds. But it was enough to scare me, so I stepped up my exercise.

In the past couple of months, I've started going off the beaten path. Every morning I get up and go for a walk in the park near my neighborhood. I eschew the gravel-laden walking path, which takes me in a wide but predictable circuit around a couple of soccer fields. That's fine for someone who needs a bit of guidance, but it simply won't do for a warrior on his path to greatness. Instead, I cut across fields, follow bayous and drainage ditches the run behind fenced in back yards, and push my way through brush and bramble and thick growth. I am an explorer. I am a lone survivor in a post apocalyptic world.

I am afraid of snakes and rabid possums.

Luckily I haven't encountered either of those on my journeys so far (I've seen possums, but they seem blissfully rabies free). But it wouldn't matter. I push on regardless, knowing that such dangers exist but determined to stay my course. I am an explorer, after all. A roaming warrior.

These walks are great cathartic experiences for me. I work through a lot of "stuff" while I'm pushing through high grass and stepping over soggy patches of ground in the deep darkness of pre-dawn. Deadlines, petty comments from petty people, stressful encounters with upset clients ... all of this fades away when you're trying to figure out the best way to cross a marshy gully in the dark.

Earlier in the week I came across a playground that has a couple of "climbing boulders." I've taken to scaling these on their toughest faces, and I have to say I do it very well. I study the ascent, I choose my route, I mull over every Jon Krakauer book I've ever read. It's all big-boy pretending, I know, but it has awoken a passion in me. I've decided to look deeper into this rock climbing idea ... you'll be the first to know when I take it on, believe me.

To add some variety to the whole thing, this morning I carried with me my Jo staff (or jyo staff). It's been a while since I've practiced any sort of martial arts, but the staff was something I always enjoyed. And I always thought it would be the most practical weapon to learn, honestly. In a post apocalyptic world, there is sure to be no shortage of sticks.

I carried the staff walking-stick style as I made my away through rugged terrain, and practiced a few forms in the middle-of-friggin-nowhere. Then I made my way back to the park, where the climbing boulders beckoned.

When I came to the boulders, Jo staff in hand, I thought, 'I bet I could climb these boulders with the Jo staff tucked into my belt." An idea worth exploring, thought I! And so I ran the staff down the back of my T-shirt and through my belt, just to the side of one of my belt loops. Then I sized up the first bolder, picked the toughest route I could find (it's only about seven feet tall, so it's not like I'm scaling Everest here), and then started my "ascent."

Success! I reached the top of the boulder and stood proud, "unsheathing" my staff and waving it in victory. The double entendre symbolism is not lost on me.

Now, having mastered the ascent, I resheathed my staff and scaled my way down, again doing brilliantly. I am a master of rocks and sticks, what can I say?

For those of you disappointed with the positive and successful spin on this tale, and for those who were expecting a story ending with my bloody and broken body at the bottom of a boulder, I can give you only this: In daylight, it becomes blaring obvious that these boulders are considered a public toilet by every bird that flies over. This fact can be unsettling to a man who, as a celebration of his pre-dawn, low-light scaling of the mighty boulder, has decided that he will drink copious amounts of water from a nearby, dirty water fountain by cupping the water into his hands and drinking as if he were pulling it from a fresh mountain stream.

You're welcome.

I will probably keep up this kind of workout (adding gloves). The world is my gym now, and I refuse to wipe down the equipment after I've used it. And I may go ahead and join some kind of rock climbing program (if anyone has suggestions, send them to me). I have a monkey-like frame, well-suited to climbing, and I think I would be good at that sort of thing.

Fitness ... who knew I could actually enjoy it? I'm actually looking forward to incorporating more of it into my life.

Because the more calories I burn each morning, the more fried chicken I can eat at lunch.

Learning life lessons is fun.


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Tip in any amount you like, safely and securely via PayPal (no PayPal account requred). And thank you in advance for your generosity!


____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.