Remission: Making It A Couple Thing

Jogging couple

CC 2009 Ed Yourdon

This summer, I had to restart my running program. I started walking up to two miles, but running? I needed a kick in the butt.

Fortunately, my wife is always willing to kick me in the butt. She saw me mapping out a mile run on the mapmyrun.com web site and asked if I was planning to do that eventually.

“Um…”

The next night. “Hey, honey. Let’s take a run together.”

Um…

We ran. I did a full mile. Nita ran about almost half a mile, walked a couple of blocks, and finished the run. We were both winded. Yes, I, the guy who said he wants to run the Flying Pig Marathon in a couple of years, was winded after running a mile.

But it’s easier to build up this time. We start at the same time, stretching together and taking off together. Nita’s endurance is building up. So is mine. Eventually, I’ll have to run a separate route as I get up to 2, 3, 4 miles and more. But working together, we’ve been able to push each other to get farther. Nita now runs in the park on days where I’m not running or I’m away in the evening. I’ve added my annual trek up the various segments of the Little Miami Trail to my routine.

The changes are slow and incremental, but we don’t want rapid weight loss. Rapid loss bring rapid gain, a sort of whiplash effect. I suspect that my fast drop from 310 pounds to 280 a few years ago also may have triggered Type II diabetes. So slower weight loss gives the body and the metabolism to adjust. Plus, when you lose slowly, your skin has time to reshape itself so you don’t have massive amounts of skin hanging off you when you hit your target weight.

Even when we don’t run at the same time, this gets more doable with a partner.

 

Remission: Suck It Up

Fruit bowl

Photo: Oliver Keenan, used under Creative Commons

I was a bad boy this summer. Mexican food – as in chimichangas. Lots of beer. Lots of bar food. And all summer, UDF (what Cincinnatians go to instead of 7/11) sold these Cracker Jack chocolate-covered snack bags for about $2 a pop. Oh, yes. I made a few trips across the street.

I also stopped running in June. I had school.

Two nights a week. It interfered with my running the other five days a week.

Yeah…

It worked just fine at the beginning of the year. I knew my schedule back in December and had a flexible daily running plan through the end of April. We can’t blame New Year’s resolutions. Those always die in February. I know. I used to go to a gym, fight with all the new true believers for treadmill and weight space the first two weeks of January and have the place almost to myself by the beginning of March.

No, I just didn’t plan ahead. And I told myself, “Hey, I’ve lost 20 pounds. I can relax a little.”

I could. Very little. I started snacking too much. I didn’t even take a walk, the easiest exercise to do.

Then the evil bunny came, the evil cellulitis bunny. And in the hospital, they gave me my numbers. Meanwhile, my coworkers gave me a fruit bowl. DId I need anymore hints?

Well, yes. My doctor says, “Your numbers aren’t bad. But they need to be better. Why can’t they be like you had them last spring?”

Yeah.

I’m typing this on Monday night after having a bunch of bar food, but I spent Sunday behaving myself. Still, some mornings, I look at the fruit bowl and think, “I really don’t feel like a pear this morning. I’ll grab some coffee cake on the way in to work.”

Um, no. Suck it up, bubba. Time to eat healthy. And take a walk, you lazy bum.

Remission: A Wake-Up Call

So all the weight I took off came back . Mind you, it took longer to put it back on than to lose it, so I did something right. Unfortunately, I also had a serious wake-up call.

Last week, I had an itch on my foot, probably residual athlete’s foot. It was driving me crazy, so I took off one shoe and rubbed the heel of the other on it.

Don’t do that. You could break the skin. I did. But I never put anything on it. Bad move.

Yesterday morning, I woke up after a rough couple of days. I got only two hours of sleep Friday night and had to go to class Saturday morning. I spent the afternoon sleeping and didn’t really feel all that good when I woke up. No biggie. I’ve had insomnia before, and it usually takes a couple of days to recover. Sunday morning…

Yikes!

The wound not only got infected, but it started its merry way up my leg. Off to the urgent care. I almost went to the ER. Worse, they took my sugar. I hadn’t eaten, and my sugar was high.

Crap. Not only am I taking lousy care of my feet – a no-no for diabetics – but I’d pretty much wiped out most of the progress I’d made on weight, blood sugar, blood pressure…

And now I can’t do anything about it for a few days because I’m confined to the recliner (Oh, darn. Have to write and watch television. Woe is me.)

At the same time, the numbers I got from one urgent care visit told me everything I need to know: I need to get back to where I was in the spring. I need to go further than that. It’s one thing to knock off 20 pounds. But even that’s not enough. I need to get the weight down to where I no longer have to worry about the numbers. Well, I don’t have to sweat the numbers.

And on a morning when I probably should have gone with my wife to a local park for a two-mile hike, I’m instead wondering, do I go to the new Mercy emergency center in Norwood? Or Christ Hospital, to which my doctor is attached? Coming home won out.

I stated here I want to run the Flying Pig Marathon the week of my fiftieth birthday. I can see now I’m going to have to redouble my efforts. I was up to an easy four miles running earlier in the year. At some point, I tried Insanity. Wasn’t ready for it, but I learned some moves that will get me through the short, dark days of winter.

Getting my foot amputated because I didn’t do one simple thing – clean up a wound and keep it bandaged – would make that difficult. And I’d have nobody to blame but myself.

Remission: Back On The Horse

I did pretty good losing weight. I went from 274 pounds down to 252. I was proud of myself, especially when I leveled off at 255 pounds. But then it happened, as it inevitably does. I slacked off on running. Then my birthday hit. Ten of those pounds came back. Sometimes, I get up to 267.

That’s a holiday thing. Always happens around Christmas. Part of it is I quit watching calories and slacked off on running. That’s gotta change. Yes, weight loss is the goal. I need to be under 240 pounds after Christmas, which means I need to stave off that holiday bloat as much as I can.

Which means I need to get back on a program. Right now, I’m not as worried as I might have been in the past. I’m still on only two medications. My sugar is fairly low, and my blood pressure is somewhat normal. But increased weight and lack of exercise can reverse the progress I’ve made so far. I don’t want that. I like being able to eat a candy bar without worrying about a diabetic coma. (I am not exaggerating.)

So this week, I need to restart running. It’s warm out now, and daylight goes past nine o’clock. So there are no excuses. I need to finish up my weekly trail ride this year. And I need to jump start the weight loss again.

I’ve decided, once I finish the bike trail this year, to do Insanity, one of the Beach Body workouts. I got the 30-day version. I’ve decided to spend June being insane, do some running in July, and, when classes end at the end of July, do Insanity one more time. So what’s that do for fall?

Well, with all that running, biking, and Insanity (which includes a diet plan), by fall, I should be ready to start training for a couple of 5K races. That will involve returning to my beloved Little Miami Trail for some distance running on weekends, visiting a park near Medishack for its par course, and possibly joining a running club. We’re also going to need a treadmill. There are three of us in this house, and we all have reasons to keep exercising. Nita and I wish they were AJ’s reasons, but AJ won’t even see 20 until next year. (I miss 20.)

The trick is not to have a program and stick with it. The trick is to always plan ahead.

That’s why I’m not swallowing half a dozen pills every morning and a few more every night. I want to keep it that way.

Remission: The Numbers Are In!

I went to the doctor a couple weeks ago for bloodwork. I get this done three or four times a year, checking for cholesterol, blood sugar, and liver emzymes, the three numbers that have given me the most trouble.

A week went by. No phone call. Two weeks. Nothing. Did I owe something on my bill?

I called.

“Oh, the doctor didn’t think he needed to call you. Your numbers were all good.”

“Well, I’m kind of keeping track.”

They read them off. Cholesterol? Well… They took a wait-and-see approach.

Liver emzymes, a sign your liver is not happy with you for either excessive weight or excessive drinking or both? Down for the first time in three years.

And the biggie, A1C hemoglobin, a cumulative measure of blood sugar over the previous 90 days?

5.9.

Diabetic is 6.1. Yes, kids, I’m off all but two medications now. Even when my weight spikes, my blood pressure and sugar stays down now. Of course, I have to be careful. A weekend of fun can throw me off or a day where everyone brings in the latest sweets or a box of donuts can really throw everything out of whack.

Remission: How I Measure Weight Loss

There are two ways to measure weight. One is to weigh oneself once a week, usually on a Monday. The other is to do it daily. Weekly gives you a consistent number to work with and only causes anxiety that first morning. Daily can be nerve-wracking, but it does give you an idea of how certain foods and activities will impact your body. Just don’t be shocked when that long night of beer, wings, and mozzarella sticks add 3-5 pounds that don’t go away by the next morning.

I do daily, but there’s a caveat. If I jump on the scale one morning and see a number that’s a goal weight (this week, 255 pounds), I don’t automatically assume I’ve met my goal. This was once a source of frustration that derailed previous attempts to lose weight and get in shape. You can have a day where you eat little, drink lots of fluids, and are physically active, resulting in a very nice reading on the scale the next morning. The problem is you have a perfectly normal day the next day. Or you have a business lunch or are so busy the only food you get is a Whopper and fries. Then the scale is not so nice.

I do my weight daily because it gives me a trend. I also have to check blood sugar and blood pressure daily, so my weight gives me an additional health factor to gauge how I’m doing. I get up, do what it is we do when we first roll out of bed, then hit the scale. This is when you’re at your lightest. Everything after that is added weight that hasn’t been absorbed yet.  If I’m at or under my target weight, it’s a good morning. But it doesn’t count as meeting my goal. Not until I’ve had 7 consecutive readings at or below my target weight. After that, it’s pretty obvious the target weight is the new normal, and I can move on.

How’s it worked? I talked recently about stopping several medications. I am now about to stop using a CPAP machine to sleep. This is a milestone. Plus, I’d like to be able to travel over night with nothing but my laptop and an overnight bag.

I am writing this on Sunday morning, which now marks 3 days under 255 pounds. My original goal for 2013 was 250 pounds. If those numbers hold by the time you read this, I will be less than 5 pounds away from my goal for the year.

Remission: At The Six-Week Mark

  • Under 265 pounds, threatening to dip into the 250’s. This is significant because the last time I did not need a Darth Vader mask for sleep apnea, I weighed between 245 and 255 pounds.
  • I almost don’t need to count calories. Almost. When I go over 2400 too many days in a row, I see it on the scale the next morning.
  • I am about to lose more medication. Finally. Blood sugar seems to be the most responsive to weight loss and exercise. I’ll take it, though I’m not going to miss that damn cholesterol tablet if I can get rid of it.
  • Up to almost a half hour running solid. I know this is slow going, but going out and running a mile straight without building up to it, especially at my age and weight in my condition, is risky. That said, I’m still going to run the Pig at 50.
  • P90X looms on my horizon. I suppose I better break out the DVD’s and figure out what equipment I need.