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300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, Episode #106: “Weight off my shoulders, my stomach, my legs, and so on…”

NOTE: This is a transcript of a podcast for those with hearing difficulties, those that prefer to read, and those who would prefer to not hear the sound of my voice. 😉

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 106, “Weight off my shoulders, my stomach, my legs, and so on” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I like to joke that going to the doctor feels like going to confession, because in both instances you have to own up to your sins.  Actually, seeing the doctor is worse, because the doctor knows what you did or didn’t do.  After all, the numbers on the scale and on your lab results don’t lie.  Thus, all you can do is suck it up and own to all the sins that you have committed towards yourself since your previous visit.  Penance is optional, but there is no absolution to be found until you get your act together. 

After my latest less-than-pleasant checkup, I finally decided to get more serious about losing more weight.  For years my weight had hovered around two hundred and seventy-five pounds, topping out at two hundred and eighty a few  years back.  Thanks to a change in medication, I’d gotten it down to two hundred and forty five, but clearly, we still had more work to do.

I used to be a programmer and I’m a numbers guy, so I decided to go all in and use the FitBit app to keep track of everything.  First my activity, or lack thereof: I’d been using a FitBit for a while to track my steps, trying my best to get 8,000 steps a day.  Yes, I know that should be ten thousand but I do computer nerd things for a living, so come on, man.

I had been concentrating on the number of steps; doing a twenty minute walk in the morning around my apartment complex and maybe a lap or two in the evening if I was short of my step goal.  I decided that counting steps was not enough and that I needed to do a sustained workout.  I started doing a half hour walk around the neighborhood every morning.  In addition to the increased distance, the roads had some ups and downs which required a little more effort than the relatively flat apartment roads.  Suddenly, reaching my step goal didn’t require too much additional effort.

Next was weight, so I bought a smart scale.  It’s one of those fancy ones that also estimates your body fat percentage.  I was already in the habit of weighing myself every morning, but syncing the scale with the app required less effort than typing everything into Excel and it also made it easier to see patterns.  Also, I hate Excel, but that’s a topic for another time. Of course, that first weigh-in was pretty eye-opening; while I wasn’t overly surprised by how much I weighed, the body fat percentage was definitely an unpleasant surprise.

Finally, and most importantly, my diet. I set up a weight loss goal using the FitBit app and picked up a kitchen scale so that I could start practicing some portion control.  As I’m sure most of y’all can relate to; this was the hardest part.

I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m sure there’s a name for the psychological thing where you delude yourself into thinking “Oh, I’m not doing that bad” when in fact you are doing AWFUL.  Once I actually saw how many calories the things that I loved to eat contained, my first thought was: GEEZ, NO WONDER I CAN’T LOSE ANY WEIGHT.  I then started weighing my portions and thinking really hard about where and what I would eat on those now-fewer occasions when I would order take-out.

Armed with all the data I that needed, all I had to do now was execute my  plan, and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy at the start.  Living in South Texas meant waking up early to avoid the summer heat, and it was a struggle during that first week, especially since I’ve been out of work these last few months.  The walk itself isn’t too bad, and I even went as far as to lengthen it by taking a lap around the apartment complex to start off.  So I don’t get burned out, I take it easy on the weekends by walking just around the apartment complex like I used to.

Now getting a handle on my eating was definitely hard.  What I’m eating hasn’t really changed a whole lot, but what has changed is how much.  With a few exceptions, if I want to get take-out now, I have to adjust my diet for the rest of the day so I don’t completely destroy my calorie goal.  Because the FitBit app sets a goal based on your activity level, that goal fluctuates throughout the day.  The app also tries to guess how many calories you’re burning when you aren’t exercising, but I think it overestimates that part.  Either way, I’m learning to adjust as time goes on now that I’m armed with all the information.

It has been a month and change since I started this plan and so far I have lost over ten pounds. I’ve also been feeling better overall.  Things being what they are right now in the time of coronavirus, I am fortunate to be able to devote the time to exercise and measure what I eat and so on and so forth. I’m pretty happy with how things are going right now.  The next challenge is going to be maintaining these good habits once life inevitably returns to something resembling normal.

You know, I think I might actually be looking forward to my next trip to confession!

This has been 300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, the next episode will be posted after I think  really hard about what I’m going to have for dinner.  For more podcasts, check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening.  Be good, take care and God Bless.

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Flu Part Deux

Back in May, I had a pretty good laugh over the swine flu hype.  I got sick, went to the doctor, had to wear a mask while waiting and took a funny picture of it with my cell phone camera.  Everything ended up okay, and eventually all the swine flu hype died down somewhat.

Fast-forward to last Tuesday, when a coworker comes in sick.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been “that guy” and its no fun when you become Patient Zero and end up infecting the whole office.  For some reason, nobody wants to sit next to you at lunch anymore!  The woman who sits next to Patient Zero starts to feel sick the next day, and I go home Thursday after lunch and start popping cough syrup and acetaminophen because I am getting worse as the evening rolls on.

I wake up on Friday running a 102-degree fever and feeling like crap.  Despite this, I manage to drag my tail to HEB to get some groceries for what I figure is going to be a rough next few days.  I spend the rest of Friday either in bed or on the couch, feeling crappy the whole time.  Despite this, I figure I’ll ride it out and decide to not go to the doctor.

Yes, I know.  Bad Idea. I’ve already heard it from both my parents, both my brothers, and a couple of friends.  ANYWAY…

That evening, a friend drops by to pick up a hard drive enclosure because his computer has gone to binary heaven.  He wisely decides to not enter the apartment.  Frankly, I can’t say I blame him, because I looked like hell and sounded worse when I answered the door.  We jaw for a bit, and then he goes on his merry way to do some PC-fixing.

I wake up on Saturday feeling a lot better.  The fever is down to 100 degrees, and I feel good enough to do laundry and a little shopping.  I’m clearly not running on all eight cylinders yet, because by mid-afternoon I’m feeling tired.  I decide to take a nap before the First Storm Manga coffee shop meeting that evening.

I arrive at the coffee shop and place my order.  The guy behind the counter notices I’m not quite myself, and asks how I’m feeling.  I tell him I’m getting over a bug.  He asks if its the swine flu, and I remark: “Well, if it is, I’m not impressed, because I’m already getting over it.”

I’ll take “Asking For It” for $200, Alex.

The meeting is going well as the evening progress, mainly because there really isn’t much to discuss.  We spend more time shooting the breeze than anything else.  At just past eight o’clock, my phone rings.  I spend a few seconds wondering why my boss would be calling me on a Saturday night before answering.  He tells me that a third person at work got sick and went home on Friday.  After running a 102-degree fever himself, he went to the E.R. (“Puss” I thought to myself) and there it was discovered that he had swine flu.

Up until that point, I had not even thought about it.  As nutty as it sounds, catching the flu isn’t that big of a deal to me, because I usually get a pretty nasty case at least every other year or so.  I become miserable for a few days, miss a few days of work, maybe see the Doctor, take some meds and life goes on.

I tell the guys, and I’m all but ready to pack up my Netbook, go home and quarantine myself for the next few days.  One of our members, who happens to be a 4th-year pharmacy student, just shrugs and says, “its not that big a deal.”  The guy that was using my PSP at the time, however, spent a good fifteen minutes in the men’s room washing his hands but not until after he completely drained its battery playing God of War.

Now THAT’S  hardcore.

I’m still sick, mind you, so I take off an hour later once the acetaminophen starts to wear off.  I get home and sit on the couch to rest for a bit.  I remember the guy I lent the enclosure to…and his wife and kid.  Fark.  I call him and let him know he might have a nice warm box of H1N1 sitting in his computer room, and even he seems pretty nonplussed about the whole situation.

I figure they’re fine, so who am I to get freaked out?  I stayed at home on Sunday (temp now 99 and change), and enjoyed some football as the new season began.  I woke up this morning with no temperature but I’m hacking and coughing all over the place, so I take a second day off so that I don’t end up literally spreading it all over the office.  The boss tells me that the other two folks are out as well, so I don’t feel too bad.

I will be at work tomorrow morning, but whether I stay at work is another matter entirely.  I will probably still be coughing a bit, but whether that will be enough to get me tossed out of the office remains to be seen.

If it seems like I’m brushing it off, then yeah, I suppose I am.  In my defense, I don’t know if I even have the swine flu.  The guy that did test positive for it does sit within arm’s length of me, but that doesn’t prove anything.  If it is the swine flu, then its pretty damn mild compared to some week-long nasty bugs I’ve had in the past, so Praise the Lord and pass the chicken soup.

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randomizER911

The weekend started out well enough: I got out of work at 4, went home to take it easy for a bit, and then went to visit some old friends at a hotel they were staying at.  We had some pizza and some laughs.  I eventually left, and hit I-10 to go back to my apartment for another exciting Friday of grocery shopping and Guitar Hero.

Life was good, I was cruising on up the freeway, Phil Collins was on the radio and somewhere around West Avenue it hit me…I felt a numbing sensation on the left side of my body.  I immediately suspected the worst…and next thing I know I am flying up the freeway towards the Medical Center trying to remember where the nearest ER was that wasn’t University Hospital.

(for the record, yes I have been there before, and yes, the waits are as long as people say)

In addition to the numbness, my heart felt like it was pounding a mile a minute, and yet I wasn’t breathing hard.  Occasionally, for some odd reason, I would check my pulse, perhaps to make sure it was still there.  I have been involved in medical emergencies before, but prior it was stuff that I either saw coming (appendix blowing up) or that weren’t life-threatening (broken wrist, pulled back).  This one had me scared, I think I recited every prayer I could think of as I sped towards Methodist Specialst and Transplant Hospital.

I parked the Reliant, took an extra minute to place my Netbook in the trunk (old habits and all that) and waited in the Emergency Room frightened out of my wits.  I preferred to stand up, I figured that if Something Bad occurred, the sound of my 275-pound body hitting the ground would garner more attention than me simply slumping over and going off into The Big Goodnight.

I called one of my brothers, whom I had just seen, and let him know what was going on.  I asked him not to tell our parents, I didn’t want them to worry.  About five minutes later, I called them beause I didn’t want them to be the last ones to know either.

I filled out a form saying what I was there for, handed it to the triage nurse, and watched the TV in the ER waiting room for a bit.  The Simpsons were on, followed by Family Guy, and they temporarily distracted me from the more pressing issue at hand.

The triage nurse called me over, and I must have sounded very nervous as I rattled off my symptoms, meds, and other pertinent information.  The nurse took my vitals and sent me to registration to get checked in so that she could start some tests.

The gal at the registration desk was cute, I remember thinking at the time that if my clock was to be punched tonight, this wouldn’t be a bad time for it.  At least the last thing I would see on God’s Green Earth would be something pretty.  I gave out more information; insurance, address, yadda yadda yadda, and sat back down briefly before the triage nurse called me over to do an EKG and take some blood samples.

After taking the EKG and before taking the blood, she got a phone call, and she started discussing “Mr. Soliz” and his “abnormal EKG” which didn’t help matters much.  I was then told that the EKG did not appear to be a heart attack.  To her credit, the nurse nailed the IV on the first shot, which is no mean feat, I am quite literally “thick skinned”.  One nurse way back when actually TWISTED the needle while it was in my arm and had the effing nerve to ask if it hurt.  I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kick someone’s ass so badly.

I phoned the family with an update, and I was soon whisked to a room in the ER, where I waited, and waited and waited.  A new nurse peeked in on me about two hours in, remarking that they were quite busy.  I didn’t let it bother me, hey, its Friday night, right?

Two hours and change after that, I finally saw the doctor.  He gave the the usual once-over with the stethescope, and asked me a lot of questions about the day.  Everything looked fine, he said, but he wanted to take a chest X-ray, so not 15 minutes later, another gal and the giant X-ray machine drop in.  She also looked cute, so I tried to be Mr. Cool and failed miserably…my fly had been open the entire time.  Story of my life, I tell you.

I sheepishly zipped up and awaited the doctor.  He came about a half hour later and told me that everything had come up roses, blood, urine, x-ray, and vitals (don’t ask where the roses came from…Just.  Don’t.  Ask.).  I have had odd unexplained things happen to me in the past that had no explanation (for example, I am allergic to something but don’t know what, I break out in hives every few years or so) and so we dismissed it as Just One Of Those Things, and I was sent home with instructions to return should it flare up again.  The nurse then removed the IV and I was sent on my merry way.

As I got up I saw someone who didn’t make it being wheeled by, and it served as a reminder of the initial gravity of the situation.

I called the family again and assured them that all was well and then I hit the road.  An hour later, here I am banging out a blog post about the whole experience, but at least I won’t be known as “that guy that sent tweets from the ER.”

I did consder it though.

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Flu On You!

I have an tendency to catch colds frequently, so it came as no surprise to me when I started coming down with something a few Tuesdays ago.  I wasn’t running a fever, so I figured it was just a case of the sniffles that would go away after a few days.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.  The bug hung around, and by Thursday I was feeling pretty crappy.  Not crappy enough to stay home from work, mind you, but certainly lousy enough to get the attention of my coworkers.  Sharing the same floor with former and current healthcare providers means I can’t be sick at work.  Coming in sick means getting no end of grief about how I should see a doctor, and questions about why am I at work instead of at home.

All that badgering usually results in me seeing a doctor and taking a day or two off from work.  This most recent bout was spiced up by the hype over the swine flu.  As I had been near the Mexican border recently for a family get-together, I figured that I should see the doctor and ensure I wouldn’t become San Antonio’s Patient Zero.

I had a feeling this visit was going to be extra fun when I shared the elevator ride with one of the nurses, and she made mention that they were all wearing masks at the doctor’s office.  I signed in at the doctor’s office, and was given a mask since I had flu-like symptoms.  It was a little uncomfortable, and started to smell kind of funky after a few sneezes and coughs, but hey, it was for the public good, so I rolled with it.

While waiting for the doctor, I got bored enough to snap a few pictures of myself with my cell phone camera, and was informed by the doctor that I had a sinus infection, and that I should take a few days off from work.  I was mildly disappointed, but I quickly got over that feeling as I spent the next few days hacking and coughing my guts out at home in bed.  Them’s the breaks, I guess!

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