Q1 Report: Physical

Three months have passed since I quit — a quarter of the one-year “retirement” I have allotted myself. At this milestone, I am taking stock of my journey of self-discovery so far. The good, the bad, the expected, the surprising and the instructive.

I am tackling the easiest and the most mundane subject in this first installment: physical.

I have never felt better physically. As a result of sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and balanced nutrition, I feel healthier and more energetic. The last time I felt this good was in 2004 during a three-week African safari after I finished my bar examination.

The post-resignation 25-day road trip, which I have written about on this blog, was both relaxing and invigorating. Instead of adhering to a detailed agenda of pushing toward a daily destination, I learned to go with the flow. I chased after things that struck my fancy and pushed the bounds of freedom.

It was good to get out of my city surroundings — a never-ending sea of yellow cabs and forest of skyscrapers — and be in nature. The physical sensations of floating in the ocean on that Wednesday in early August feeling the gentle waves in constant motion andbreathing the thin crisp air as I climbed what seemed like an ever ascending mountain in Glacier National Park reawakened my senses. I saw vastness and eternity, for the first time in a long time. In it, I saw possibilities.

Upon returning home from the road trip, I was seized by the compulsion to de-clutter and organize. It was as if getting rid of the extraneous items around me would symbolically make room to accommodate and retain the “possibilities” I felt during the trip. Over the next two weeks, I immersed myself in fall cleaning with determination.

I opened up every storage container, including desk drawers in the office, garment bags in the closets, and boxes in basement storage. After donating and tossing out several large trash bins of stuff, I neatly repackaged what remained. My former trainer would’ve been proud of the way I squatted to lift all the heavy boxes with proper form. Niecy Nash from Clean House would’ve approved the way I parted ways with semi-sentimental things.

I was satisfied with the result. But the fall cleaning was exhausting, both physically and emotionally. As a result, I fell into an exercise rut and didn’t go to the gym for the entire month of September. I reasoned semi-logically that I had burned a sufficient number of calories while cleaning or running errands.

After running out of excuses, guilt got the better of me. I finally returned to the gym in October. Stepping foot into the gym was two-thirds of the battle. Once I’d gone back, I remembered how much I missed sweating — the sensation of beads of sweat trailing down the back of my calves. I have since gone back to a regular exercise routine, alternating between spinning and pilates classes.

Exercising is only as effective as the food we put in our body. Over the past couple of years, I have become more conscious of what I eat. In part, I have become concerned about the quality of the food we consume. I have also become more painfully aware of the inconsistency between my advocacy for the humane treatment of animals and mycarnivorous diet. So now with more time on my hands, I have been trying to reform my eating habits through better planning. I cook more and buy more vegetables and organic meats. My diet is not fully consistent with my beliefs yet, but I see improvements.

So, with regular exercise and a better diet, I have lost a net of 4 lbs since quitting — a drop of 7 lbs in the last two months after gaining 3 lbs during the road trip. I suppose I shouldn’t focus so much on my weight, but it is just an easy way to measure progress.

The part of my body that has benefited the most from unemployment is my feet. I have been wearing sneakers or ballet flats these days. Despite walking all over the city, my toes are straighter and heels softer. I hadn’t needed any bandaids until my visit to MIT last week when I wore high heels for the first time since quitting. My feet couldn’t take the shock even though it was merely a pair of typical three-inch ankle boots that I have worn many times before.

The three-inch culprit

The delicate skin on top of each of my middle toes ended up chafed and a massive blister surfaced on the bottom of my right arch. While my re-virginized feet are enjoying the patented cushioning system of my sneakers, my large collection of stilettos lay unused in the shoe cabinet. If I ever fancy donning another pair of these sinister yet delectable looking torture devices, I will need to painfully rebuild my tolerance.

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