Mario Villalobos

TagsHealth

Still Going Strong

100 days ago I hit my 1,000 daily move goal, and yesterday I hit 1,100. A part of me thought I’d slow down once I hit 1,000 days, but my fitness routine is so ingrained into my days that I don’t ever think about slowing down. My days are just my days. I wake up, get to work, and workout. It just is.

I won’t be doing anything special during this upcoming holiday break, so I guess I’ll keep going.

Photo by Aurelia K. Photography

A Stream of Consciousness Life Update

I’m listening to The War on Drugs' new album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Over the past few weeks, I’ve purchased albums by Miguel, Lena Raine, Lana del Rey (a favorite), Meg Myers, Radiohead, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, Cassandra Jenkins, Faye Webster, Jana Winderen, DARKSIDE, Better Oblivion Community Center, Tyler, The Creator, Snail Mail, Phoebe Bridgers, Low, and many many more. As cliché as this is, music grounds me. It helps me overcome all of life’s struggles and hardships, all the bad feelings and dark thoughts I sometimes experience.

I believe in buying my music rather than paying some company the privilege of renting them for a month at a time, and yeah, it makes me feel good to do so. I get the same feeling when buying books from my local bookstore than to Amazon, even though it costs me more to both drive there and to buy the book. It’s one of those things that I feel we’ve lost as a society, the knowledge of the true cost of things. I listened to a recent episode of Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly where they talked about the carbon tax, and it made me think more about this. I recommend giving it a listen.

I swear I didn’t plan on making this post about the morality of where you buy things and taxes, but that’s kind of what happens when I write. Things just happen and I get to see where my thoughts take me. It’s fun and interesting. Anyways, what’s this about a life update?

In early September, I contracted COVID. I had mild symptoms, and I didn’t think much of it until I woke up one day and couldn’t smell my coffee beans. During the heart of the pandemic, I made an effort to smell my coffee beans most mornings to 1) make sure I didn’t have COVID and 2) because they smell so good. Fresh coffee beans are one of the best parts of life, right? So I woke up that Sunday not able to smell, so I drove to my local hospital and asked for a rapid test. They swabbed my nose (a feeling I had forgotten about until now—do not recommend!) and told me I’d get results within a day or two. I got the call on a Tuesday mere minutes after texting a friend that I was 99.99% sure I didn’t have COVID. Turns out I was 99.99% wrong.

I was and am fully vaccinated, but I do work at a school, and I, like far too many people, stopped wearing my mask. I had mild symptoms throughout the entirety of my experience with COVID, and I did regain my sense of smell later on the same day I lost it, and I’m now weeks and weeks removed from my quarantine, but I still feel some after effects of having had COVID. It’s not fun, it can be scary, and I don’t know what to do about it. It feels like I have a tennis ball stuck in my throat, and on some days I don’t feel anymore and on others I can. It’s weird and unpleasant, and I don’t know when, or if, it’ll ever go away. Right now it’s on the milder side, but I’ve been afraid to think that maybe it’ll go away this time, you know? Because it always come back and reminds me that something is wrong and that maybe—maybe—I don’t have that much more time of relatively good health left.

I paid off my debt over three weeks ago, and life has been interesting since then. I didn’t feel debt free for maybe a week or two after sending in that final payment, but now? Now I can feel it. As soon as Apple’s Unleashed event ended, I bought the 16" MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip, all the RAM, all the GPU cores, and just 2 TB of SSD storage. She’s a beast, and she should be in my hands on Monday. I’m sorta back in debt, but really, only for a few months. Am I justifying it? Not really? I’ve been planning to buy a machine like this for a while now, and now that I have it? I’m good. My life is good. I don’t need much of anything else. I just want to create for as long as I can, however long that ends up being. If I have a year left, then I have a year left. If I have 50, then I have 50. All I know is that I have to take it one day at a time.

And today is a Friday, so I want to live this Friday as best as I can. And part of that means writing again.

I finished my school’s website redesign a few weeks ago, and even though it’s very much a 1.0 product, I’m very proud of it. I learned a lot, and I know I want to keep writing CSS and HTML for as long as I can. It’s so much fun and so very satisfying. I’ve been absorbing so much of my time and attention on the entire web development scene, from blogs and newsletters and podcasts, and I just want more more more. I love this feeling, and I hope it never goes away. And with that comes my desire to redo this website again. I have ideas that I want to explore and mock up and prototype, and yeah, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m eager for this work. I’m yearning it, you know? I want to spend my time on this, like, right now! But I want to wait until I get my new laptop before I start working on it full-bore. I can’t wait.

Last Wednesday, the 20th, I donated blood for the first time. I don’t know why I never had before, but now I have, and I definitely want to do it again. Up until a few days ago, I never knew what my blood type was. But now? Now I know. I’m O+. I’m a universal donor. That was my wish. I was hoping I was a universal donor, and I am. And I’m going to keep donating my blood for as long as I can. It feels good that maybe my blood can help someone out there, some stranger fighting for another day with their loved ones, for another hug, for another kiss, for just more time. That’s what we’re all fighting for, isn’t it? At the heart of it? For more time with who we love?

One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time was agreeing to be the academic coordinator for this student from Germany. It has been so enlightening to see the world through someone else’s eyes, especially someone from the other side of the world. This is her during her final volleyball game of the season, and unfortunately, it was my first and last time seeing her play volleyball. I, of course, brought my camera and took over 4,800 photos over a two day span. My Fujifilm X-T4 was crying for mercy by the end of it, but I didn’t care—I needed to take photos! It had been so long. It has been too long.

Fortunately, basketball season is coming up, and she will be playing. She has never played basketball in her life, but just seeing her go at it anyway has been inspiring. She had never played volleyball before either but just look at her smile! I think that says more than I ever could.

Halloween is this Sunday, then Thanksgiving after. All the holidays are coming up, and I don’t know what I’ll be doing during any of them, but maybe I can do something about that. Maybe I can live each day to the best of my ability with the people I care. I think that’s a very good goal. Let’s do it.

1,000 Days!

Today, I completed my Move ring for the one thousandth time in the last one thousand days. The funny thing is that I feel like I’m just getting started. So let’s keep going.

To one thousand more.

Sunday.

When Problems Are Really Solutions

Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score:

[Dr. Vincent] Felitti points out that obesity, which is considered a major public health problem, may in fact be a personal solution for many. Consider the implications: If you mistake someone’s solution for a problem to be eliminated, not only are they likely to fail treatment, as often happens in addiction programs, but other problems may emerge.

One female rape victim told Felitti, “Overweight is overlooked, and that’s the way I need to be.”

[…]

“The idea of the problem being a solution, while understandably disturbing to many, is certainly in keeping with the fact that opposing forces routinely coexist in biological systems… What one sees, the presenting problem, is often only the marker for the real problem, which lies buried in time, concealed by patient shame, secrecy and sometimes amnesia—and frequently clinician discomfort.”

When I read this yesterday, I felt deep, deep shame. Up until the end of 2011, I always battled with my weight and my self-image. I ate all the time, even when I wasn’t hungry. I ate when I was bored, when I watched TV, when I was with friends. I ate when I hated myself, when I wanted to die, when I wanted to numb the pain. I’m 5’8”, and at my heaviest, I weighed over 230lbs. I had failed so many times in trying to keep my weight in check, and each time I failed, I ate and ate and ate.

But then that all changed. I wish I could remember the mindset I was in when it did, but I can’t. Not really. One day it just clicked: I want to lose weight, and I want to live healthily, and if that means a pound a week, a few pounds a month, so be it. This isn’t something I wanted to do in 10 days and then just stop; this was something I knew would be a lifelong endeavor, and at time time, that made complete sense to me. So I just started.

Slowly at first. I only worked out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I did simple resistance band training. I did what I could, knowing that I was in it for the long haul, and I decided to only weigh myself once a week. What I wanted to see was a steady decline in my weight, regardless of the number. My arbitrary goal at the time was to lose a pound a week. It didn’t happen the first month. I think I only lost two pounds that first month, but I had a month’s experience under my belt, and that made the next month a bit easier. I started to feel stronger, healthier, and more excited to start my next workout. That next month I lost the four pounds I wanted to lose, and then it snowballed from there.

From December 2011 to April 2012, I lost over 60lbs. Each new milestone propelled me to the next one, and I’ve been living healthily ever since. I’m at my ideal weight range, which is in the mid-170s, and I have no intention of ever stopping. I have over 10 years of experience built into my system now and stopping means sadness, means depression, means death. During the past decade, I have noticed myself stopping when in front of a mirror because 1) I like how I look, but also 2) I sometimes don’t recognize myself.

I felt shame when I read that passage above because I have sometimes thought to myself, whenever I’ve seen an overweight person, why they don’t do what I did and just lose the weight. I know this is awful, and my hands are trembling a bit as I’m writing this, unsure whether I should just delete this section or not, but it’s true. I only remember the results, the consistency, the routine of it now, but I don’t always remember all the pain and hardship I had to endure before I decided to make the change and how everyone is different. How everyone is battling their own demons, their own personal hells.

And then I read the next section:

But when the ACE study data started to appear on his computer screen, he realized that they had stumbled upon the gravest and most costly public health issue in the United States: child abuse. He had calculated that its overall costs exceeded those of cancer or heart disease and that eradicating child abuse in America would reduce the overall rate of depression by more than half, alcoholism by two-thirds, and suicide, IV drug use, and domestic violence by three-quarters. It would also have a dramatic effect on workplace performance and vastly decrease the need for incarceration.

In early 2020, before I ever heard of the coronavirus, I befriended a little girl named Zoe. She is the sweetest person I’ve ever met in my life, but what I didn’t know when I met her was her past. When she was much younger, she witnessed something truly horrific, something that no one should ever ever see. She and her brother were both taken from their parents and adopted by a lovely family, but the memories of whatever she saw infected her in ways that make her a “troublesome” student. She lashes out in class sometimes, and other times she just shuts down without any discernible reason.

So I bought The Body Keeps the Score because I wanted to learn more about trauma, specifically childhood trauma, but then the coronavirus shut the world down, and I didn’t see any of the kids, particularly Zoe, for months and months. So I kinda forgot about the book. Last spring, I did attend a Zoom meeting that dealt specifically with childhood trauma, and I earned a certificate and everything, but without putting it into practice, I kinda forgot what I learned. Like others, I focused on other things, and when school started again in the fall, we were all more concerned about wearing masks and social distancing than paying attention to the mental states of our students.

Throughout the year, I’d been checking in with Zoe more and more, and to me, she seemed okay. She even gives me hugs whenever she sees me. It’s funny because there was one time last week when she saw me, she said, “Just give me a hug,” and she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me. It was so funny and so sweet that it was then that I remembered this book. I wanted to know if there was something in what I was doing that was helping her in some way. I’m about halfway through the book now, and I may be getting hints here and there about how to help children with childhood trauma, but I’m not quite there yet, so I’m not sure if what I’m doing is helping. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. All I know is that I’m committed to this topic and to Zoe and other children like her.

This is a lifelong endeavor, and I’m in it for the long haul.

Progress Update

Four months ago I set a goal to lose five pounds. That might not seem like a lot, but for me, I didn’t like the trajectory I was heading in, so I needed a goal to change things. As of today, I’ve lost six pounds, and things are looking up. My Apple Fitness+ trial ends soon, so next week I’m going to hit the weights and do 8 weeks of LIIFT4. After that, I’m going to do 6 weeks of 10 Rounds then 8 more weeks of LIIFT4. This will take me into mid-August or so (assuming I don’t waver once). I’ll see how I feel then to determine what I might do. Maybe 10 Rounds again?

I’m not sure which fitness subscription I like best. I’m used to Beachbody On Demand, but I liked Apple Fitness+, too. Again, I’ll see how I feel then, and I’ll figure it out.

I got my 2nd and final shot of the Pfizer vaccine today!

Consistency.

I’m on my final two weeks of my Apple Fitness+ trial, and here’s my upcoming schedule:

Day Workout
Monday Strength
Tuesday HIIT
Wednesday Yoga
Thursday Strength
Friday HIIT
Saturday Rest
Sunday Rest

I’m using 25lbs dumbbells for the strength workouts, which for some workouts has been at the limit of my strength. I keep a pair of 20s close by, just in case. I haven’t done a HIIT in a couple of weeks because I’ve been focusing on Strength, so returning to it should be interesting.

So far, I really like Apple Fitness+. My conundrum is that I have a year’s subscription to Beachbody On Demand that doesn’t expire until October. I do like it, and I know the next one or two workouts I want to do in BOD once my Fitness+ trial is over, but that won’t take me into October. I want to subscribe to Fitness+ but my “responsible” self is telling me to wait. So for now, I’ll wait.

I Got My First COVID-19 Vaccine Shot Today

And I feel fine. It was the Pfizer one, so in three weeks, I have to come back and get the second shot. The entire process was quick and easy, and I couldn’t be more proud with Tribal Health and the entire health staff that helped get all this setup. I live on tribal land, so of course the vaccine clinic was setup at one of our local casinos. Funnily enough, this was the first time in my entire time I’ve lived in Montana that I’ve entered this casino, but getting the chance to get a vaccine was one bet I was happy to make.

After I checked in and filled out all my paperwork, one of the nurses led me to the nurse who would be giving me my shot, and to my surprise (and relief), it was my old friend Hope. I hadn’t seen her in years. We used to fight fires together, and she was actually my first squad boss on my first fire. When I knew her, she was an EMT, but now, she’s a few months away from becoming a nurse. It was really good catching up with her, and I was very glad she was the one to give me the shot.

She told me about some of the side effects I most likely will feel tomorrow, but I’m not worried about it because I’m pretty good with pain. Once I got the shot, I was directed toward another nurse, and she gave me a timer with 15 minutes on it. I sat on a chair and waited the 15 minutes, and since I felt fine, once the timer went off, I went home. At the moment, I still feel fine. In fact, I feel ecstatic. I’m so glad I’m getting vaccinated from this godforsaken virus, less than a year since Montana first went on lockdown. Modern science is incredible.

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