Progress Report #1 – One Month

This Friday marks one month since I started my return to the gym.

And so far, it’s been going pretty well.

I think I could be doing better, though.  I’m only going about 3-4 times a week, and that’s good for now.  And I only started weights in the third week, after meeting with the trainer.

However, last week was a complete washout.  I fell ill with a mild case of bronchitis, and that put the kibosh on any gym activity.

But today I’m ready to get back on the horse, so to speak.

I’m not noticing any physical changes yet– although the second time I did my upper body routine, I did like the way my arms looked. 🙂  Let’s hope that continues to improve.  I’m tired of having needles for arms.

AND– the last time I weighed myself, I noticed I had dropped about 7-8 pounds.  THAT felt great!

But– it’s all relative.  I just have to keep it up.  And I will.

Today will be cardio.  Tomorrow will be lower body and cardio.  Thursday I’m going to attempt getting up early, and will do upper body.  Friday will be cardio and whatever else I need to do… or am able to do.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement… it means a lot!!


Hello again… hello!

So yeah… It’s been a long time since I last posted something here.

But I’ve been pretty busy for the past few months.  Busy with work, chorus, family… and busy with myself.

You see, ever since I moved last year, I have been slowly and steadily fixing things that I didn’t like about my life.  And when I say slow and steady, I MEAN slow and steady.  These things don’t happen overnight, you know.

For instance, I finally opened a savings account– and actually started putting money INTO that savings account.  That’s huge.  I haven’t done that in years– especially those years when I was living in my old place.  It isn’t much yet, but I’m hoping it will grow into something I can use for– I don’t know– a trip?  Maybe even a long vacation?  That’d be really nice.

I’ve also been paying off some long-standing debts that have been hovering over my head.  I still have a few to catch up with, but I feel like I’m in a better place now than I’ve been in a very long time.

But the biggest changes have been with myself personally.  No, I’m not dating anyone (yet), but I finally decided to stop being a lazy ass and do something about my physical health.   I joined a gym.

It’s taken me over ten years to muster up the will to do this again.  My first foray into the world of physical fitness started in about 1995 when I was still living in Kenosha.  I had joined the local Gold’s Gym (which it isn’t anymore),  formulated a really good plan, and stuck to it for almost a year.  By the time I moved to Chicago, I was down to 190 or so pounds, and was really starting to show the effects of my efforts.

After moving to Chicago in 1997, I joined a Bally Total Fitness club.  Big mistake.  First, the club I joined was in the River City complex downtown.  I’m still not 100% sure why I went there, but I was a traveling sales rep at the time and I was never stationed in one particular area; so I could easily drive there any time I wanted.  The problem was, I let them rook me into the most expensive contract they had, which cost me a fortune.  I think I was paying something like $100-120  a month, and on top of that I hired a personal trainer.  HE was great– well worth the money — but I don’t know WHAT I was thinking getting sucked into that deal.

Well, as luck would have it, I lost that job about a year later, and I wasn’t able to afford that astronomical monthly fee.  I tried (and tried) to get out of it, but I was locked in for at least another year.  I was so upset with Bally that I just stopped going altogether.  When I finally paid off the membership, I told them to shove it and quit completely.  My love affair with fitness had ended.

In the ten years or so that passed since then, a lot has happened in my life– the most significant being the death of my father.  His passing was a wake-up call for me.  He wasn’t born with diabetes… he contracted it due to his lifestyle.  And after the diagnosis, he let himself go.  He went from weighing over 250 lbs. around the time of his diagnosis to over 450 at the time of his death.

I recount this, because I realized recently that if I don’t do something about my health now, I will end up just like him.  OK, I wouldn’t get quite so heavy (at least I hope), but I’m most certainly a prime candidate for diabetes, and I do NOT want that in my life.  And as 40 draws ever nearer, I realized that if I don’t do something about it now, I never will do anything about it.

So … I’m doing this.  And it’s not easy.  It’s hard work.  There are days I have to drag myself in.  There are other days where I look forward to it.  Thankfully I’ve done this before, so I know what to expect… but I really want this to work.  This may be my last chance to make a difference for myself.

I’ll be blogging about my progress here.  Since I haven’t been blogging much lately, I figured this was as good a reason as any to resurrect the old Launching Pad.  Might as well make use of it, right? 🙂

With a Whoosh and a Schuss!

Even though I have spent 39 years of my life in the Midwest of the United States of America, most of those years in Wisconsin, I have never gone skiing.

Until now.

This weekend I am making the trek up to my home state with a group of my friends to purposely hurtle myself down a mountainside and hope to heaven that I don’t end up crushed in a pile at the bottom.

Now of course, I’m not going to be stupid about it.  I’m going to take lessons and start on the proverbial “Bunny Hill,” or whatever they call it at Alpine Valley Ski Resort.  And I can pretty well guess that the “mountain” at Alpine Valley will look nothing like the photo at right, with jagged cliffs and deep gorges.

Still, I’m a tad nervous.

And I won’t be alone, either.  There are a bunch of us in the group who have never skied before, so at least I won’t be the only one learning how not to break my nose.

But if I come back in a complete body cast, you’ll know why.

Heaven help me.

The first climb is the steepest!

Help Me Hustle!Yesterday I did my first practice climb for the 2008 Hustle up the Hancock.  It went really well, considering I hadn’t climbed stairs like that since last year’s event. 

When I did my first practice climb last year, I could barely finish 20 floors.  My face was hot, my head was spinning and my legs were on fire.  This year I finished 37 floors easily.  I felt pretty good the whole time and even feel fine today.  I don’t know if that means I’m in better shape this year, but needless to say I’m encouraged!

The Hustle up the Hancock event is exactly a month away today.  I can scarcely believe it’s coming up so quickly, but I think I’ll be ready.  I have another practice climb scheduled for tomorrow and I plan on doing all 50 floors of this building.  By next week I’ll be doing this building twice — 100 floors.

I don’t know what took me so long to start my training.  It’s a huge challenge, and I guess I just wanted to be completely ready — physically and mentally. 

I’m excited about this year’s event because we have a lot of people from my department climbing.  At last count there are 8 members of our staff making the climb.  We train together, encourage each other and kick each other in the butt when we slack off.  It’s working really well and we’re all going to be very successful.

Money-wise, I’m doing well but I still need help!  So far I’ve raised $630 and my goal is $1,500.  So if you saw my initial post about the Hustle, but couldn’t make a donation yet, hopefully you can help out now.  It’s easy to do, and every penny goes to the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago to help fight, prevent, and support those with lung disease; so every penny is well-spent.

Finally, a BIG thank you to those of you who have already contributed… I owe you all big hugs!

Gregg Vanicek
Scott Goldner
Jason Ott
Fine Point Face Painting
Jamie Guajardo
Quenten Schumacher
David Long
Jeff Kosin
Brian Kowalski
Stephen Murphy
Cliff Dix
Tom Myles
Barbara Drumm
Maia Wright
Ricardo Torres
Eric Boberg

Help me Hustle — AGAIN!

As you may recall, last year I participated in the Hustle up the Hancock, a fundraising event for what was then called the American Lung Association of Greater Chicago, but is now named the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC). The premise of the event is to climb to the top of the John Hancock Center— all 1,632 stairs; all 95 floors.This was the first time I had ever done anything like this, and truth be told, I barely made it– but I did make it. It was an incredible feeling to accomplish that goal.

Help Me Hustle!So I am happy to tell you that on February 24, 2008, I will be participating in the 11th Annual Hustle Up the Hancock event to help raise money for lung disease research and education.

I will join thousands of others throughout the Chicago land area to raise funds for Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) as we aim to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease. You may think that it’s crazy to climb the John Hancock Center but I am doing so because I am able. I can breathe freely, and there are many people who are not as lucky as I.

People like my mom.

My mom was diagnosed with Emphysema in 1995, and has had Asthma for most of her life. For the last 12 years, I have seen the toll that this disease has taken on her life and her well-being. While she is still able to get around and live her life, the disease is slowly robbing her of her ability to do the very things that she has enjoyed all of her life. As each year passes, it gets harder and harder for her to perform simple tasks– from walking from her car to a store, to even taking a shower.

I also suffer from Asthma symptoms, and am a prime candidate for the disease, since it runs in my family. (My grandma also had Emphysema and Asthma.)

With your support, people like my mom can be helped. Your assistance will allow RHAMC fund research and support lung disease research and programs for people with lung disease.

Please click the link below to go to my personal donation website, and make a contribution. Any amount is accepted– and every amount is appreciated.

Last year, with your support, I raised $1,165.00. I am hoping to top this by raising $1,500 this year – maybe even $2,000!  Every penny goes to the RHAMC, and every penny is well-spent.

Rick Aiello’s Personal Fundraising Site

I will be updating my progress, again, right here on the Launching Pad.  Click here to see how I did last year.

Thank you for your help… and wish me luck!