Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Plan

Well tomorrow morning is the big day; day 1 of 90. I am actually pretty excited about it as I have kept the diet 100% for the last 6 weeks. All I have read about it leads me to believe diet is king, and if you want the drastic results it all depends on keeping the diet. The more on plan you are the better your results will be.

With a few exceptions like teenagers or the genetically blessed, you cannot out exercise a bad diet. For example my wife tries for 10,000 steps a day which is approximately 5 miles of walking. But the calorie loss associated with that can be nullified by one candy bar. Typically people who want to lose weight will jump on the bandwagon of heavy exercise but then erase all possible results by eating more crap. Then they get depressed and quit the exercise portion, but not the eating more part. Thus they gain even more weight.

So far this year I have lost 25 pounds through eating better. I have done a little walking but most of it can be attributed to the diet. Once I add the exercise to the mix I think that extra 40 pounds I have left is going to disappear.

So tonight I will do the before fitness assessment and snap a few photos. I am wavering on the posting of them here at the start. I think I will see if I get through the first phase (4 weeks) before sharing them. But I will state my goals for this project:

  1. Lower my blood pressure

  2. Increase my HDL, lower my Tri’s

  3. Drop 40 pounds of fat, get back into size 36 pants

  4. Be able to do 5 pull-ups

The pull-up thing is my biggest weakness strength wise. Last time I messed around with this I only did phase one without a clean diet and managed to get 1 honest pull-up. So they are my Holy Grail of fitness, the one thing that will tell me I am doing some good. Otherwise I will let the photo’s speak to my success or failure. Plus I really want to blow away my Doctor at my next appointment. Lipid profile is scheduled on March 1 and my appointment is on March 5.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Happened?

Well marathon training was going great, I was down 25 pounds for the year, and I was fully on track and then I got sick. It was a weird sickness that involved a lot of GI distress, sore throats, mouth sores, and a general run down feeling. So I took some time off. I just started to feel better when we took Gunnar off to college and when I got there the symptoms all returned. I put it down to the altitude and the dry polluted air of Utah Valley. So I got through vacation and returned back to Minnesota feeling okay.

Once back all the symptoms hit me again but I wasn’t too worried because I still had enough time to recover enough for the marathon (though it would have been a slow jog now). Plus I was seeing my Doctor in a few weeks anyways. But the symptoms only got worse and any running was out of the question. I had been sick for over 9 weeks, not enough to warrant a trip to the Doctor, but enough to eliminate any chance of doing a marathon. So that money was gone

Plus I always tried to be 80% compliant on my diet, which coupled with exercise made me okay on my goals. That would mean okay lipid profile and I would gradually lose weight. The reality was about 50% compliant and without exercise I started to put the weight back on; not all of it but a little over half. As any knowledgeable fitness trainer will tell you, you cannot out exercise a bad diet (at least if you are not a teenager). Without control of my diet I was doomed to fail.

Finally after eight weeks of being sick and not eating well I was a mess again. It was then Lisa suggested that my illness started three weeks after starting the new medication. OMG!! I am so stupid given my history of getting side effects from medication. So I hit the internet and looked up the side effects for my pill and found out every one of my symptoms were listed right there. More worrisome was the really severe one that I was just beginning to develop. That one would have taken a year to recover from.

So I immediately stop taking the pill and decided right there and then, medication was never going to offer me an easy way out. I just had to accept my lot in life and just plain eat right and exercise, no excuses. I know if I would simply do that my problems would fix themselves. So in I went for my lipid profile and check up form my Doctor and as expected my results were terrible.

Total Cholesterol 250

LDL Unable to measure

HDL 25

Triglycerides 2100

Blood Pressure 160/100

Weight 250 pounds

I was a mess as expected and my Doctor immediately wanted to put me on a couple of new medications. But I asked for 1 month. Give me one month to just eat right and exercise. If I can show improvement for those 4 weeks I could stay off the pills, because the meds just screw me up. So I began with my diet and I was 100% compliant for all 4 weeks. Essentially I am extremely low carb. In simple terms, carbohydrates are transported by triglycerides within the body and that will cause you to store them as body fat and increased cholesterol. As I said this is a lot more complex process, but the basic premise is less carbohydrates equals less triglycerides. I have a condition referred to as Metabolic Disorder (aka Syndrome X) which greatly exacerbates this process.

I mainly just worried about diet compliance for the month with only occasional walks with the dog on the weekends. After the first week all my symptoms from the previous pill had finally cleared up, finishing with a nasty mouth sore at the base of my tongue. So let’s jump to my four week results:

Total Cholesterol 169

LDL 71

HDL 30

Triglycerides 339

Blood Pressure 137/82

Weight 240 pounds

The first thing I said to my Doctor was “Tell me how awesome I am”. And He Did. It was one of the most significant one month improvements he has ever seen and he has given me his approval for another four months. He says he wishes all his patients would just eat right and exercise, it would eliminate most problems. Now I still have room for improvement and my goals for the next four months are to drop another 40 pounds. This should help get my blood pressure where it needs to be. Plus I would like to get my triglycerides below 200 and this coupled with exercise should allow my HDL to climb back up to healthier levels.

So this means 120 days of eating clean – 100% compliant through all the holidays. So far I made it through Halloween with out an issue. I find the longer I am on clean eating the easier it becomes, so that is one good thing. Plus I plan on getting more exercise now that I feel much better. This means more walking and eventually running again. I am also setting up my bike trainer again for watching TV. Most importantly though, I am going to make an honest effort at the P90X. I have flirted with it before, but without the clean diet. This time Tony and me are going to do it right.

So I will probably post some photos soon. I have some from my really heavy days at 262 pounds, and I will get some of me at my current 240 pounds. Then I will try to get one a week for progress. It could get ugly; at least that is where we are starting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I used to run because I was good at it – relatively speaking. That was back in the day when bulking up meant getting my weight to 185 pounds; and that was hard to do. But those days are gone and I now jog for the sake of exercise and weight loss. And to get my blood lipid levels back in line.

So a month ago I had a lipid profile done and the results were not good. I made a concession to my Doctor that I would go on a hypertension drug if I didn’t get it under control. In conjunction with my bad lipid profile I once again had elevated blood pressure, so I am now on a Calcium Channel Blocker. So I made another commitment that if my lipids were not better by September I would go back on to the meds. I have generally avoided them because of some bad side effects over the years, and I know it can be controlled by diet and exercise if I wasn’t so lazy.

Anyways here are my terrible results:
Cholesterol 235
Triglycerides 1245

So you can get the sense from those two numbers about how bad I am; and yes I was fasting. So after 4 weeks of walking and generally eating right I had a quick lipid test at work as part of our work/health program. Here are those results
Cholesterol 188
Triglycerides 533

And my blood pressure was normal, but that was helped by the drugs. And the guy who gave me the results didn’t think that my results were that stunning, but I was dutifully impressed with myself. Especially after only four weeks.

Now to give myself a little break (i.e. excuse) the genetics are against me. I have metabolic disorder and have been dealing with this for about 20 years when my ability to manage my triglycerides just collapsed in college. Another symptom is my almost total lack of HDL. I am still sitting at 15 which is bad, but I generally find that it is an ordered recovery. I have to get my weight and tri’s down prior to making a dent in that problem. Even then I only get up to the mid 30’s.

If I get my weight down below 210 pounds (I am at 245 currently) I will start to wear my watch running and keep track of my times. For now I just go out and have fun.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it really easy to quit most exercise endeavors. All I need is the flimsiest of excuses and I am right back where I started. Well maybe a little worse of because I am now older.

My goal for this week is to get out for at least 10 miles a day which takes me approximately 2.5 hours to do. I am mainly walking (about 90% of it) and do not officially time anything. I just want to get time on my feet so when the day comes that I can start moving a little faster I will be ready.

Last night everyone had something going on except JT, who is too young to stay at home by himself. So we waited around doing this and that for the first reasonably old enough person to turn up. Well that turned out to be Lisa at 9:15 pm; and did I mention it was raining again (but no lightning)? And my headlamp was missing? I was so tempted to just call it a day and go to bed. Missing one day wouldn’t hurt would it?

But that is how it starts, and only on the third day. So I got up and out door and began a repeat of yesterday’s trek since it was 10 miles exactly. I must say the library reflecting off the Mill pond at night is quite a pretty sight. I just wish I had a nicer camera to capture it. The only excitement was a text from Gunnar a little before 11pm.

Gunnar: Are you home?
Me: No, out walking
G: I left for J’s and locked the door*, do I need to come back?
*(this means I am locked out and everyone else is asleep)
Me: No. It’s on my route. I will pick up the key in an hour.

I now had visions of me banging on J’s door at almost midnight to get the key. This is funny because I am a regular worker ant in a rather large Fortune500 company and J’s dad is the CEO*. That would have been good. But I had the good sense to text Gunnar when I was close and the whole transaction was handled silently. Of course I told Lisa otherwise and she was quite horrified – got to enjoy myself somehow.

*I often joke that if I count all the soda that he has provided to my son over the years as part of my compensation package, I am probably one of the highest paid employee’s in the company.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How far away is it?

I set off for my nightly walk using my cities trail system. My initial plan was to make it out the Nature Center to touch the big rock and back for about 11 miles total. Unfortunately the day had been overcast and about a mile out the rain started; then lightning in the distance. Now I am all for walking in the rain, mainly due to an old Bob Kennedy Nike ad in which he stated "Somewhere there's a sunny warm place where all the second place guys train". The problem with going to the Nature Center is you are exposed out in the country (fields) for over half the trip.

So I got off the trail at the Mill pond and began traipsing across the city, picking up bits and pieces of other running routes. The rain got very heavy for a while but the lightning seemed to stay off in the distance. I kept telling myself the old canard that 3 seconds between flash and thunder meant it was 3 miles away. At the beginning it was at 3 seconds but eventually made it to 16 seconds, so definitely moving away. I have since looked it up on Wikipedia and have learned it is actually closer to 1 KM for every 3 seconds. In hindsight that feels more accurate, especially in the beginning.

Early on before the weather a young girl from the office booked past me on the trail and disappeared around the bend. But then the lightning struck and she was immediately coming back down the trail and heading home. To bad for her because not a mile down the trail I found these babies right there on the side of the trail.

I think that makes me a professional walker, just with incredibly low wages.

In the end I got in 10 miles total, at least according to Google Maps. A little shorter than I wanted but a good result all the same. My goal is 75 miles for the week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where I'm At

It always seems like tomorrow is a good day to get back into shape, but as the saying goes tomorrow never comes. So after a few years of starts and stops I finally reached a decision point. If I want to do these ultra’s I actually have to train for them. And if I want to train for them I actually need to get away from the TV and go outside.

Well the stumbling block for me has always been weight, which has been hovering around 260 pounds (but I am 6’4” so it isn’t as bad as it sounds). My exercise of choice has always been running but the extra weight causes a lot of stress on my lower legs which leads to injury. SO I would get started on a “new” exercise program only to stop again. After a not so good visit from my Doctor (Hypertension and the usual extremely bad lipid levels) and a weekend with my family of origin (for all my problems I am in the best shape – i.e. my medical future doesn’t look good unless I actively try to change course) I realized that tomorrow has finally arrived. As hard as it is today, tomorrow will only be harder.

So I have learned even though I may not be able to run at the moment, at least not more than a quarter mile at a time, I can surely walk. So with that in mind I have been walk/jogging over 50 miles a week for the last 5 weeks (90% walking) and I have been noticing some changes. First of all I am doing some long walks of 10-12 miles and my weight has been coming down. For the year I am down 20 pounds (at 242) which means I am only overweight now instead of obese (247 is the BMI obese weight for my height). Another 20 and I should be able to start running a bit more consistently.

But I am a goal orientated person and I think I have a pretty good one to keep me going. In August I turn 42 years old and just down the road we have an excellent trail that is 42 miles long. So tentatively on Saturday August 13th I am going to walk my years in miles on the Root River Trail (Houston to Fountain). It is a doable goal and on the positive side it will get that first ultra mystery out of the way. A lot of hesitation of doing a 100 miler is facing the great unknown of going beyond the marathon. Especially traveling a fair distance and paying money for an event you don’t even know you are capable of. I think doing this 42 miler will go a long way to alleviating a lot of my fears.

Plus it will pave the way for my first real ultra which will be a 24 hour race. That is where you do a loop course for 24 hours; and you can go as fast or slow as you want with all the breaks you want. I think then I will be ready for a 100 mile trail race next year sometime.

Anyways, if any of you will be in the area and would want to walk a few miles let me know. I can use all the company I can get (but I am not sure if any of you are as crazy as I am). I plan to walk the first 30 or so miles exclusively and then see how I feel for some jogging at the end. That could very well mean all walking.

Also I think I will start posting more about my walking here as a means to keep myself motivated. Maybe not as interesting but better than nothing, maybe?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Conversations with JT

ON the way to get a haircut for JT and Qatar we have the following conversation.

Qatar: Next year when Gunnar is gone (college) I will get to move downstairs to his room.
Me: We might get a foreign Exchange Student.
Qatar: (Excitedly) A Girl
Me: Why would that matter?
(Now you have to imagine this in the Style of Tom Haverford, because I swear to God that that character is based on JT)
JT: It has to be a HOT girl (wait three beats) so we can all enjoy her.