Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Been A Good Week But A Challenge Awaits!

I've done a good job all week of avoiding the dietary pitfalls that have plaqued me often over the last few weeks. I've stuck to the plan and passed on the the goodies available at the office. On Thursday we had our annual Halloween breakfast, which included biscuits and gravy, tamales, totillas, and tons of pastries. But they also had several different egg dishes and some great tasting sausage. I may have not had nearly the calorie deficit that I had Monday through Wednesday, but I didn't give in to the sweet tooth monster either. My granddaughter did her normal Thursday night cookie bake but I passed. The big test, however, comes tonight. I am the one who gets the task of handing out candy to the neighborhood kiddies. This is kind of like an alcholic getting a job as a bartender. I don't know how I'm gonna do it but I'm sure gonna try.

It was a pretty good week activity wise as well. I played racquetball with Neal Monday and in a tough match, I lost my consecutive win streak. Neal was playing well and I made too many unforced errors. But we played again Wednesday and I've started what will hopefully be another winning streak. Early in the second game, I broke a couple strings on my racquet. I had to go to the office and check out one of their cheap ones. But in a gesture of great sportsmanship, Neal put away his good racquet and played with the el cheapo instead. Pretty cool!
The weather has been great for riding--a little nippy in the morning but real nice coming home. I drove in yesterday after forgetting to put my work clothes in the wife's car (she works at the gym where I go to change and shower before heading to my office a couple blocks away). My legs were also a little tired from riding hard in addition to playing two tough racquetball matches. I tell myself that I'm going to pedal easy sometimes so my legs can recover, but I always seem to put the hammer down once I get going. Once a racer.......

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cuting the Yo-Yo String

I don't know the exact numbers but I would guess that since my 21st birthday I have lost over 250 pounds. During that same timeframe, however, I have gained something like 215 pounds! In 1975 I arrived in Thailand weighing around 230 pounds. Five months later I was down to 170. In 1983 I stepped off the plane in Korea at 227. By the time I came home on leave midway through my one-year tour, I was down to 180. About five years ago I started "doing Atkins" at around 240 and managed to get down to 210. But I again found myself over 240 last July when I embarked on my present lifestyle change. So my history shows that I can figure out ways to get the weight off; however, keeping it off is a different story.

For the last few months, I've pretty much stayed between 200 and 205 pounds. I haven't been as strict about the diet as I was when I was losing the weight consistently. I've allowed my meat portions to gain in size. I eat a lot of almonds and macadamia nuts as snacks. Those are both healthy things to eat, but they are also calorie dense and it's hard to lose weight if I don't control portions. But my real problem has been that I've allowed myself to eat more and more things that I had completely shunned for a year. Example: my 17 year old granddaughter lives with me and every week she bakes cookies for her boyfriend. Well, grandpa has volunteered to try a couple to make sure they taste good. Sometimes I'm still not sure after two so I eat a couple more! :-) AS I TYPE THIS, an email notice just popped up announcing that there is lemon coffee cake available in the conference room! This goes on at work all the time and I've been great at avoiding it--until recently. I've had a few "what the hell" moments. I don't think that indulging in these type of snacks on occasion is that bad, but I've been doing it far too often.


I stepped on the scale this morning and I'm back up to 211. I refuse to allow myself to slip back into old habits. So I'm jumping back on the wagon with both feet today. No more cookies, no cake at the office, NO HALOWEEN CANDY (that's gonna be hard since I'm the one in charge of providing a sugar rush to the neighborhood kids Friday night). I'll have my daily apple but skip the mango, eat smaller portions of meat, and snack on a few baby carrots instead of macadamia nuts. It's time to make a big push and get below the Mendoza line once and for all!!! KILL THE YO-YO!!

A side commuting note: I woke up this morning to the sound of a howling wind out of the north due to a passing front. It took me 40 minutes to ride into work against the wind that included 25mph gusts. The ride home should be fun!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Change in Modus Operandi

I've been playing some pretty good racquetball lately. After a long stretch of only winning one out of three games against Neal, I've been winning two out of three almost every time out. That normally comes in the form of winning the first two games, followed by a loss. I think the during that third game I suffer from a little lack of motivation knowing that I've got the two games in the bank, plus I'm usually pretty damn tired at that point. Neal is younger and quicker around the court, which means I really have to hustle to get some points. But it didn't go that way today. After winning the first game, I dropped the second one 15-13 in a really hard fought game. So for THIS third game I was tired, but I wasn't lacking in motivation. It took some real effort but I won the third game. I was exhausted--but it doesn't feel that bad when you put up a "W"!!

It's been a good start to the week. Three days of commuting on the bike, and back-to-back racquetball matches. I think I'll ride easy tomorrow and go sit in the massage chair at the base hospital during lunch!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cruising with Nicky

Sunday I had the option of staying home and watching the Cowboys play the Rams, or going on a bicycle ride with my grandson Dominic (aka Nicky). As the picture shows, I made the right choice!! We rode around 15 miles altogether including heading out to the pier on the naval air station. We rode at a fairly liesurely pace because I wasn't sure how he would handle the distance; however, he did great! He said he'll be ready to go again next Sunday.

I had a swim meet to officiate Saturday which led to some carb binging. I'm not in self-bashing mode for indulging once in a while. I eat very healthy foods the vast majority of the time so I figure a couple pieces of upside down cake ain't gonna kill me! :-) At some point I hope to make a push and drop another 10 pounds or so, but I'm content with the holding pattern for now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blood Pressure and Racquetball

As I've posted before, I've been working with my doctor trying to get my blood pressure medication right. I had some problems with dizziness while lifting weights and after playing racquetball in the past. My assumption was that my weight loss and diet improvements were resulting in less need for the drugs. We tried switching to some different medications but they weren't keeping my numbers down well enough. But I think we finally figured it out. The problem was that I also take medication for urinary problems do to an enlarged prostate. But that same drug can also be prescribed for lowering blood pressure. I was taking both of them in the morning so when I was working out at lunch, I was getting the double whammy effect. The solution turned out to be quite simple. I take the prostate medication at night instead of the morning. That seems to have done the trick. I sure wish I could dump these drugs like I did the Zocor, but I guess it's just a condition that in my case can't be solved with exercise and diet. Bummer!

I played back to back racquetball matches Tuesday and today. Ron kicked my butt Tuesday but I took two out of three from Neal today. That's the third time in a row that I've won the first two games before losing the third. I think that's a function of a bit of a mental let down after knowing I've got the two wins under my belt, AND I'm a bit tired at that point. But like Meatloaf sings--two out of three ain't bad!

It's been a few days since I've done my pushups--I'll make a point of doing a few sets tomorrow. The bike has stayed in the garage this week due to the threat of rain. I'm a fair weather commuter for now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dr. Eades On My Lab Results

This is a follow up on my lab result post. The day after I got the results, Dr. Eades had a post on his blog concerning an otherwise healthy 49 year old who was put on statins after getting a total cholesterol reading over 200. It went into the problems he had with the side effects of taking the drug. The point of his post was that "preventative care" is not all it's stacked up to be in some cases. I posted a comment describing my recent experience. This was Dr. Eades reply to my comment:

Problem is, what if you had done all this and your cholesterol had stayed at 230 or gone even higher, a situation I’ve seen many times? Would you have panicked and gone back on the statin, which I can guarantee is what your physician would have recommended, or would you continue to avoid statins? You would still be healthy even with a cholesterol of 250, but you wouldn’t think so because you would be focusing on a fairly meaningless lab result rather than all the other signs of health.

My first reaction upon reading that was that he was saying "so what?--it's meaningless." I was a little shocked at first. But after thinking about it, I see his point. If you're a skeptic about the relationship between cholesterol levels and heart disease (and ultimately--mortality), then it shouldn't make a difference. HOWEVER, I seem to remember a point made in Gary Taubes's Good Calories, Bad Calories, that a rise in cholesterol could indicate that the body is raising it's defenses against inflammation caused by the constant carb intake and subsequent insulin release. I don't have a copy of the book (I read a library copy) so I can't go back to research exactly what was written. But if I AM recalling this correctly, then this was not a "meaningless lab result" at all. It's still a sign I'm doing something correctly.

By the way, I replied to Dr. Eades and stated that I still wouldn't have gone back on the statin. I quit taking it in the first place when I knew my numbers were up--nothing has changed my mind since then.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Considering Cordain

I recently checked out two books from the local library that I have been wanting to read for some time. One is Protien Power by Michael and Mary Dan Eades (both MDs), and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain (PhD). I found both to be interesting reads and full of good information. One of main reasons I wanted to read Cordain's book was that I wanted to get his take on eating dairy products. (DISCLAIMER: I didn't read The Paleo Diet cover-to-cover this weekend so I may have missed something. I'm going to re-read it before it goes back to the library).

It seems rather obvious that Grok didn't chase down wild animals on the savannah and then take out his milking stool. But I love cheese and Greek-style yogurt, so I was looking for more information in order to make an informed decision. When I read the section on dairy in The Paleo Diet, what I gathered was that Cordain's main objection to eating dairy is based on it's saturated fat content. This is one area where Cordain differs from many others who espouse a "paleo" diet. My readings have led me to believe that our fear of saturated fat is not based on good science. I do make an effort to balance Omega-3s and Omega-6s, but have no problem with enjoying fatier cuts of meat, or my container of full-fat Greek Gods yogurt. Cordain also recommends no restrictions on eating fruit, but it seems unlikely to me that there would have been a lot of the fruit available that matches the sugar content of the stuff we can buy today. I can devour mangoes in mass quantities--but they are potent little sugar bombs.

So who's right? That's a question that all of us have to ask concerning a lot of subjects when we are trying to take control of our own health and well being. I'm sure there are millions of people in the U.S. who would benefit immensely if they followed the advice of either the Eades or Cordain to the letter. All we can do is make informed choices on the information available.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Lab Results Are In!!

I haven't felt the motivation to post lately. I'm doing the S.O.S on a recurring basis--racquetball, pushups, & cycling. My weight has stayed in the 200-205 range for months now. I want to shed some more fat but I'm content with the way things are for now. HOWEVER, I do have some fairly interesting news to share.

Sometime in late 2006, while still a raging carboholic, a doctor prescribed a daily dose of Zocor because of my elevated total cholesterol (230mg/dL). Then about 14 months ago, I started reading Mark's blog and several other sources that convinced me that I wanted to dump the statins. So I just quit taking the damn things. And I also made some serious dietary changes including a daily fat intake normally above 50% of my calories. So when my doctor suggested a lipid panel, I was really curious to see how it was going to turn out. So here are some of the numbers I got today:

Total Cholesterol 158mg/dL
LDL Cholesterol 100.2
HDL Cholesterol 50.00
Triglyceride 39.0

I'm pretty damn pleased with those numbers. Even if I do count myself among the skeptics who question the relationship between cholesterol and heart/vascular disease, it sure is satisfying to see these numbers knowing how much fat I consume.

I think I'll grill me a ribeye tomorrow!!!!!