Monday, August 1, 2011

Breaking Down

Atrophy is not a shiny commemorative statue you put on display in your home or office. Its the breaking down of unneeded or damaged tissue. It can happen for a variety of reasons. In my case, it was injury. Before getting hurt, I mostly held to a regular regimen of resistance training and cardiovascular activity. That, coupled with a diet high in protein and vitamins, helped me to maintain a lean, mesomorphic body type. When that routine was suddenly interrupted, my body reacted by shedding needless tissue. Basically, my metabolism shifted from anabolic to catabolic. Rather than building muscle, I broke it down. So, I've gone from fit to frail pretty quickly.

Unfortunately this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. 6 years ago it was my lower spine that failed me. It was a genetic condition that contributed to that injury. This time around is not much different. The good news is, as I get older I am less likely to rupture spinal discs. This is because the soft vertebral discs harden with age. This limits flexibility and increases the damaging caused by certain physical activities like running, jumping, dancing... anything in which your body takes a beating due to the effects of gravity and the impact of bone on bone. Walking upright is one such activity. Yay for being human. So, hopefully this is the last time I will have to deal with this sort of thing. After that, its the bones themselves we have to worry about. Yay for aging.

When solicited for fitness advice from my friends, one of the many things I always suggested was: Take pictures of yourself. It's not narcissism. It's just a logical, helpful tool. The mirror doesn't work as well as a photograph because the results we see in our reflection are gradual. Pictures taken at regular intervals, however, show the exact amount of progress being made. Visual evidence of the progress helps to maintain motivation. And its so easy to do. I had stopped taking my monthly pictures for the last couple years since my need for them had mostly gone away. I had mostly achieved the level of fitness I desired and was basically just maintaining it. More recently however, I got kind of soft from all the vacationing and lack of regular exercise. So, once I got back into the workforce and a regular routine, I got back into fitness. So I started taking pictures again. It only became interesting now because of the dramatic regression. Ill gather up those pictures and post them here in the next day or two.

Hopefully the latter of these photos will also be the beginning of a new set showing progress rather than regress. I guess time will tell. I am scheduled for the MRI scan on Thursday. Hopefully the results will show that my injury can be treated... and I can get back to feeling good again. If not... I guess its just another challenge to deal with going forward.

By no means am I wallowing in self-pity. There are many people with far more serious ailments and disabilities than mine. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit depressed. But that's natural since I don't get my regular endorphin boost like I used to. I am staying optimistic. Here's to hoping for the best.

EDIT: Ok, I guess that didn't take long. So here are my 3 most recent pictures. Picture 1 was taken on May 18th, just two days before the injury. I weighed 168 lbs. The second was taken on July 1st, 40 days after the injury. The third was taken today. There is noticeable atrophy. Today I weigh 150 lbs.

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