Category Archives: Getting Healthy

It’s been a week full of transitions


Whew! What a week!

Inside Tony's BrainBefore I “get into the weeds” and talk about some of the details of the past week, I thought I’d share a few random thoughts and observations in no particular order and no intentional emphasis… …sort of a “stream of consciousness” exercise.  Sound good?  Got your seat belt tightened? Are you mentally braced for the strangeness of entering Tony’s Brain?  LOL  OK then, here we go!

  • This crap is HARD!
  • This whole “getting fit & healthy” thang is gonna kill me!
  • There are a LOT of moving parts to this process.  Tug on one and the others shift. *SIGH*
  • I’m making progress!
  • I feel OLD. Some days more old than on others.
  • I am old. – evidence: I now have to use my reading glasses waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than I used to…  *SIGH*
  • EVERYTHING takes longer than I thought it would
  • It’s a process… …I’m making progress.
  • I’ve GOT to do this. The quality of my remaining years depend on it.
  • I do feel MUCH better now than I did a couple weeks ago; something about paying attention to my diet, my health, and my fitness has changed my mental outlook.  Yeah, it is everything I’ve listed up above, but, even though only a tiny bit of progress has been made,
    I FEEL BETTER ABOUT MYSELF! simply because I’m doing SOMETHING to improve myself.  That alone is worth all this effort.

The cold hard numbers:

Slow Progress is still ProgressSlow progress… …but progress!

  • Weight 292.8 lbs — Total lost to date: 42.2 lbs / Left to loose: 97.8 lbs

    • no weight loss this past week…BUT check out the body fat % numbers!  Woo hoo!
  • Body Fat: 41.3% — Lost to date: 3.2%  / Left to loose: 28.8%
  • Muscle: 24.1% — Gain of .1% — Yay!!!
  • Visceral Fat: 29.26% — Average over 19 measurements — still getting data here.  Sometimes it is 29% sometimes 30%.  As you can see from the average it seems to be closer to 29%

How did the “plan” go?

Well, it was a mixed bag.  Mostly I stuck to it.  And I knew last week it was a “trial week” meaning that THIS week, beginning Mon Jan 4th was the “real” start of the new Game Plan.

Last week was to try it out and tweak it before jumping in for real.

There are LOTS of things that you have to change if you are serious about getting fitter, healthier and staying that way! In other words, if you plan on this being a permanent lifestyle change and not a temporary effort.

Some examples:

Tracking Calories / Switching to a balanced diet

  • Simpsons dueIt takes TIME to enter data into a program.  Whew!  Those nutrition labels are sometimes very tiny!
  • I am NOT currently eating a balanced diet.  Over the past week I have tended to eat a higher percentage of fat than recommended daily allowances. Also, my carbs are lower than they should be.  GOAL: I am going to try to adjust that this week.
  • I tend to eat calorie dense foods.  Ugh.  GOAL: try to adjust that
  • My sense of portions are way out of whack.  This ties into the other two things.  SIGH
  • I’m better with breakfast and lunch. Dinner is where the shit hits the fan.  Ooops! Did I just use a wordy dird? Damn right I did. 😉
  • I am successfully drinking more water.  Yay Me!
  • I only gave in one time and drank some diet coke.  — Yeah, according to the nutrition label, there’s nothing wrong with doing this but LOTS of articles on the subject and my own personal experience tells me that NOT drinking Diet Coke is better for me than when I drink a lot of diet coke.  I’m actually better drinking a Hansen’s Root Beer when the craving for a soda hits than drinking the chemical nightmare that is Diet Coke.  So there!  *grin*
  • I need to find and consume some healthy snacks…things that are high volume but low calorie and have some nutritional value.  Things that come to mind are raw carrots and cucumbers….things that are fresh and crunchy and filling.  — GOAL: do some research on this.

Daily Blood Glucose Test / Daily Blood Pressure Check.

I had some questions about this.  I am a Type 2 Diabetic and have been so for several years now.  My doctor assures me that IF I loose the weight and get my body fat percentage down, that I’ll be able to stop taking the diabetic medication and the blood pressure medication which keeps both of those conditions in check.

Questions I had at the beginning of the week:

  • How long does it take for the Blood Glucose Level to increase after after drinking a sip of coffee or taking a bite of food?  Actually for me I wanted to know more about the coffee than the food!  LOL

I am NOT a morning person.  My long-time roommate and best friend can attest to this.  He knows after living with me for 15 years to NOT even attempt to speak to me until I’ve had at LEAST one cup of coffee.

Truly, I’m not capable of conscious actions and thought until at least half a cup, so, performing my morning blood glucose test and the morning blood pressure check before consuming any coffee at all…OMG!!!!!!  I’ve mostly trained myself to do this, but sometimes…SIGH.

So, the answer?

  • It depends

SIGH!  I did some research and got all kinds of answers that basically boiled down to: It depends on the individual and it depends on what kinds of food / drink you’re talking about.  Basically high carb (including sugar which is a carb) causes spikes faster.  Fats and Proteins take longer to cause a spike BUT EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT so the only sure way is to experiment and find out what happens to your body when you eat/drink different things:

  • FOR ME: a cup of coffee doesn’t affect either my blood glucose level or my blood pressure.  I get the same readings pre and post not just one cup, but three cups of coffee.  I did the measurements over a course of four days.
  • My morning coffee is Equal Exchange Breakfast Blend, 1/2 tsp of Organic Sweet Leaf Stevia, and 4 Tbsp of Sprouts brand Organic Half and Half.

So….for the next couple weeks I’m going to take TWO tests, one that is “fasting” right after I wake up and the second after cup #3 of coffee.  Why? Because the fasting one is higher than I’d like…actually outside the recommended range,  SIGH, while the one after cup #3 of coffee is where is SHOULD be… so what the heck is going on?  I think it is because of my food choices for dinner which I’ll be changing over the next couple weeks so, for now, I need to do both in order to tell if my food changes have the desired effect on the AM fasting test.

Next Question:  What is the acceptable range of blood sugar level PRE and POST eating a meal?

THAT answer was a lot easier to find.  According to the American Diabetes Association here are the ranges (click the image for a full size view):

Blood Glucose Chart

And the good news is that I’m right on target!!!  Yay me!!!!

Final question on blood glucose testing:  Am I doing it correctly?

Again, the American Diabetes Association seemed to have the best answer:

https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/checking-your-blood-glucose

How to check your blood glucose levels

Answer: Yes, I’m doing it right!  YAY ME!!!!

Omron Blood Pressure DeviceAs for the Blood Pressure testing, all week, whenever I did a blood glucose test, I also checked my blood pressure.  I use an Omron home testing unit.  Mine is an older one so the idiot lights on it reflect the OLD ranges, not the current ones but the measurements are accurate.  The current model is the Series 10 unit which I’d like to get but can’t afford.  It is on my “Help Tony on his Fitness Journey Wish List on Amazon” so if you’re in a generous mood and want to get it for me that would be AWESOME!

Eeeeeeennnnnyyyyyyyway…. My blood pressure is spot on!  Woo Hoo!  Yay for me!  Well, “Yay” for the awesome meds my doctor has prescribed to me that keeps my blood pressure where it should be.  Hopefully, eventually, I’ll get weaned off those meds as well as the diabetic meds.

ONE example of weirdness…

Tug on one thing and it affects everything.  So…to count calories and to track WHAT and HOW MUCH I’m putting into my body that meant that this week I had to:

  • Re-arrange stuff in my kitchen
  • Replace the batteries in my food scale
  • Ask my roommate if I could have the tiny drawer at the end of the kitchen cabinets closest to the wall where he had been storing the fuses for the condo. He said yes. Then clean it out and then put the measuring tools into it that makes it more likely that I’ll actually MEASURE the food that I’m eating.
  • Clean out my fridge, tossing a couple expired items of dressing, sauces etc.
  • PULL EVERYTHING out of my pantry and fridge, haul it to my bedroom where my computer and desk are located, then grab my READING GLASSES *Grrrrrrrr!!!!!*  sigh and input the nutrition label information for anything that wasn’t already entered into the database of the program I’m using.  THEN haul all that stuff back and put it into the fridge and/or pantry.
  • Order a couple measuring spoons because I discovered that I need some spares – easier to have the spares than to have to keep rinsing and washing the ONE of each size that I have currently.
  • Order a new lighted magnifier to put in the kitchen because the old one wasn’t working (did I mention yet that I’m irritated about needing reading glasses / magnifying glass to read nutrition labels?)  Oh? I did? Nevermind then! *hmmprhmph*

See? Tug one thing and….thar ya go! Whew!

And… don’t even get me started about 2020 / New Years Eve, the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, the delay in getting unemployment $$ from the newly passed relief bill, the massive train wreck that is our federal government….Aaaaaaaarrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!

thinking calming thoughts…thinking calming thoughts…

So…all in all, a good week!

Still lots of work to do and I’m sure that this coming week there will be more tweaks to the “Game Plan” but I’m on my way.

See ya on the dance floor!

My Game Plan (Goals) for Jan-Mar 2021


Sometimes it just clicks into place

Game Plan to meet your goalI’ve been aware since mid-summer that the “good habits” and “routines” that I put into place over the past year or so were slipping away.  Why is pretty obvious: a little thing called a Global Pandemic!

If you are like most of us you’ve gained weight during the pandemic.  I certainly have.

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of “thinking” about how to restart, revitalize, and revamp my fitness routines to get me headed toward my ultimate goal of between 190-199 lbs and 12-14% body fat.

And I kept drawing a blank. Zero. Goose Egg. Nada. Nothing. I felt “blah.” No energy. No motivation. then a couple days ago, something “clicked” and a path forward materialized in my brain.  BAM! There it was.

I’m self-aware enough to know that all this time my brain was working on the problem even when I wasn’t consciously working on the problem and eventually it all came together.

The problem I was facing was that everything is connected to everything else!

Anyone who has ever moved furniture around a living room to only have everything end right back where it started knows what I was dealing with.

I’d plan on making one change “Item A” only to realize that affected “Items 1, 2, and 3”  Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrggggggghhhhh!

Here’s my Game Plan:

Overview (Stretch, Lift, & Move)

  • Normalize my stretch and lifting routines.
    • In other words, what I need to do is get those to the point where they are habitual.  I do them pretty much without having to look at my “how to do it” books and get myself to a point where SKIPPING a day feels WEIRD!
      ….
  • Increase my aerobic activity.
    • I hate exercise for exercise sake. It has to be fun. Something like Dancing or Cycling.
    • Right now, given the unpredictiable weather an “inside” activity like dancing is the better choice.
    • Also, increasing my dancing will start to get me ready for later in 2021 when hopefully the competition season will start back up.

Stretch & Lift

  • Use the stetching and lifting routines laid out in the book “Getting Back in Shape (3rd edition) / by Bob Anderson, Bill Pearl, Ed Burke and Jeff Galloway”
    • Jan – Program Before the Program #1
    • Feb – Program Before the Program #2
    • Mar – Program Before the Program #3
           ….
  • Each program has a stretching component as well as a lifting component.  My plan is to:
    • Stretch six days a week Mon-Sat (Sunday will be a rest day)
    • Lift 3 days a week: Mon, Wed, & Friday.  Recovery days will be Tue, Thu, and Sat. (Sunday will be a rest day)

Move!

Right now I’m going into the dance studio to practice/exercise twice a week for a total of 6-7 hours.  Here’s my gameplan:

  • Jan – Add two hours of practice per week, bringing the total to 8-9 and spread it across three days instead of two.
  • Feb – Add another two hours bringing the total per week of practice up to 9-11 hrs.
  • Mar – By March I anticipate that the number of people who have been vaccinated will be sufficient that I’ll be able to re-start my Dance Team.  This might happen in Feb…who knows.

But the bottom line is that even if I just go into the studio and practice on my own on the competition line dances or work the syllabus patterns, that movement will burn calories and increase my aerobic capacity as well as improve my dance skills.

Weight Loss / Body Fat Loss

I have a spreadsheet where I input my daily weight and body fat numbers. IF all goes as planned here are the targets for the next three months.  These numbers are well below the recommended max loss rate of 2% of body weight.  I’m aiming at under 1% — .6% to be precise.  Later on that can be adjusted but for the first 3 months, I’m setting my goals on the conservative side.

  • Now (end of Dec): 295 lbs / 41.4% BF
  • End of Jan: 287.31 lbs / 38.9% BF (loss of 7.69 lbs & 1.76% BF)
  • End of Feb: 279.82 lbs / 37.13% BF (loss of 7.49 lbs & 1.76% BF)
  • End of Mar: 272.52 lbs / 35.37% BF (loss of 7.30 lbs & 1.76% BF)

Diet…NOT “dieting”

Just because something is “simple” does not mean it is EASY! Loosing weight / body fat is a simple equation burn more calories than you consume. Tah DAH!

Yeah…right!

After reading up on the latest info (not much has changed) I calculated that for my weight and for my goals, I should be consuming 2,200 calories per day if I want to loose weight.

To track my food intake and to make sure that I maintain a nutritionally balanced diet, I am using a desktop app called “Perfect Diet Tracker”

Screen shoot of "Perfect Diet Tracker"

I really like it for several reasons:

  • The interface is straight forward and intuitive.
  • You can input your own goals / targets.
  • It connects to a shared database of food products.
  • If something isn’t there, you can add in the product info and create your own products / foods.
  • You can combine several things and create “Favorites” to make data entry easier.  e.g. My “Morning Coffee” is actually THREE food products: coffee, half & half, and stevia.  But I created a “group” that combines all three things so when I want to record a cup of coffee I just choose “Morning Coffee” instead of entering each of the three ingredients each time.
  • As you go through your day, it shows you how many calories you have left and what ratios of Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates you’ve already consumed side by side with the recommended daily ratio so you can adjust on the fly.

Check out the program for yourself: https://perfectdiettracker.com/  And no, I don’t get any kick back by referring folks to them.  I just think it is a well made program.

So…now I have goals and a plan to get there!

See ya on the dance floor!

Yay! The numbers are headed in the right direction! Woo Hoo!


Good news this morning!

Man's feet on a bathroom scaleI know from experience (having done this before) that I need daily feed back on the “stats” — otherwise I tend to get off track really quickly.

Last time I reported my numbers was on Dec 7th:

  • Weight 292 lbs — Loss of 7.8 lbs since my “restart on Nov 28, 2020”
  • Body Fat: 42.25% — Loss of .4 % since my “restart on Nov 28th”
  • Muscle: 23.6% — Loss of 1.4% — Not good!  I need to loose Fat, not muscle
  • Visceral Fat: 30% — same.  No change

My goal is to weigh in daily.  I’m still working on that HOWEVER…this morning, Dec 23rd, I did weigh in and good news

  • Weight: 289.6 — Loss of 10.2 lbs since my “restart on 11/28”
  • Body Fat: 41.65% — Loss of 1.0% since my restart date
  • Muscle: 24.5 — GAIN of .9% Yay! — Last thing I need to do is loose mass!
  • Visceral Fat: 29% — Loss of 1% since my restart.  Yay!

How’s that for a short and sweet post?  LOL

And my closest friends say “I can’t do short!  Aha!  That’ll show them.  grin

See ya on the dance floor.

The goal of losing weight feels heavier than the weight


I am NOT in a good place right now

My Emotions Today - An emotional roller coasterI’m almost tempted to not even continue this post but since I’ve started I might as well lay it out.  And it ain’t gonna be “pretty.”

For weeks now I’ve been alternating between depression and anger…  Are they related?  Sorry, stray thought

…I’m pissed.  Pissed at myself for allowing my weight to pile back on and depressed that I’m “here again” and I’m worried about making ends meet and worried about what could happen if I catch Covid… and… and…

Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!!!

Back in late Feb / early March I was at 265 lbs! Halfway to my stated goal of 195 lbs.  70 lbs gone / 70 lbs to go and 2020 looked like it was going to be a FRIGGIN AWESOME YEAR…

Now I sit here at my desk and I’m trying to “restart” which means playing a hugely complicated numbers game.  Stay with me here…

  • IF I’m going to loose weight, experience has shown me that I have to count calories
  • which means… I need to know how many calories I should consume per day to loose the weight / lower body fat
  • which means… digging into a confusing mass of online calculators and information about body weight and trying to figure out what is “normal”SCREW NORMAL!  I ain’t normal!!!!  ONE TIME and one time ONLY did I weigh what the friggin’ charts SAY I should weigh in pounds.  I was 165lbs with a 10% body fat and I was the fittest and healthiest I had ever been.
    Me around mile 67-ish in the 1992 Hotter than Hell Bike Ride

    Fit me – Cycling

    AND PEOPLE WERE ASKING ME IF I WERE SICK!

    — Given it was the height of the AIDS epidemic and friends of mine were dropping like flies and I worked, at the time, in a gay bar so anyone who was “suddenly skinny” was assumed to be sick and dying.

    But I wasn’t, I was logging hundreds of miles a week on my bicycle and during the summer cycling season, attending weekend group rides finishing up that season with a 100 mile ride at a HUGE event called the “Hotter Than Hell 100

    And truthfully, looking back on that time, I was very skinny at that point.  But that was QUITE a few years ago; getting to that 165 weight with a 12 % body fat is so unlikely that I might as well wish for a magic genie to appear and grant me three wishes.  SIGH

  • so…  I know that in spite of what the “height / weight charts” say, I should NOT aim for 150-165 lbs.  I should aim for 190-200 lbs and a 12-14% body fat.
  • which brings me back to those damned numbers — I did mention how pissed I am right now, right, and depressed, and TIRED.  Pick which 30 seconds we’re talking about and I’ll tell you what I’m feeling.Experience has shown me that I need constant feedback to achieve fitness goals.  And experience has shown me it never lasts.  Hang on…slapping myself back into looking forward instead of moaning and groaning “woe is me”  **SLAP**I MUST get in better shape. MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.  My quality of life depends on it.  My DANCING depends on it!
  • THEREFORE… IF I’m going to get fitter,
    • I have to get on the scale every day.
    • I have to take my blood glucose test every day.
    • I have to take my daily diabetic meds and my blood pressure meds every day.
    • I have to take my daily vitamin supplements.
    • I have to take my daily fiber supplement.
    • I have stretch every day.
    • I have to count calories and track everything I eat.
    • I have to lift weights three times a week to build muscle mass
    • I have to increase my aerobic activity so that I am burning more calories than I consume – enough to trigger the consumption of my stored energy (fat) reserves.

It really is that simple

Simple does NOT equal easy
That list up above is it.  Saying it is simple.  Doing it ain’t

Doing it again makes me feel overwhelmed; makes me feel like I’m trying to lift this huge burden of mythological scale. Kinda like Atlas, the Titan who held up the celestial sphere.

 

The world being “on fire” doesn’t help!

IWorld on fire Meme - Anyone Want a Dance Lesson?n case you haven’t noticed, there’s a Global – Friggin – Pandemic going on right now!

And I’m in a “high risk” group: I’m 58. I’m fat, technically the term is “medically obese” but fat is fat. I have high blood pressure (controlled with meds). I have Type 2 Diabetes (controlled with meds).

In March my “dance biz” pretty much vanished.

The whole dance competition season basically has been cancelled for 2020 and the scuttlebutt says that we won’t have any competitions until early Summer of 2021, if then.

On top (underlying everything?…)  My unemployment benefits expired on 11/28/2020 and Congress hasn’t voted on the new relief bill, and when they do, goodness knows how long it will take Texas to get the money and then distribute it….. Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!!  Yeah, I’m a bit stressed.

Want to help?

Yes, I’m feeling guilty about asking…
yet another loop on that emotional coaster!

The worst part is I’ve been here before

Choose your "hard"Yes, there was this little thing called a “Global Friggin Pandemic” that was kinda unusual this year, but really?

Seriously?

I’ve been here before, in this place where I’m trying to “get things moving again” and I’m so tired. The thought of doing all that is about to come in order to get where I’m going…

I’m exhausted and I’ve not even really started in earnest.  And I keep flipping between resolved, pissed, anger, determination, resolved…

I think you get it.

I literally just sighed.  Really. I did.  I just let loose with this huge tired exhausted, depressed, I’ve got to lift the friggin burden AGAIN sigh.

OK, so we start, continue, proceed… one more time.

Now if I can only figure out those calories…

Getting fit is like watching a Glacier Melt…


Stay with me…the metaphor makes sense!

If you’ve not been hiding under a rock, then you’re aware that scientists are concerned about the high number of melting glaciers. When you’re standing next to one, you think it isn’t changing that much, but when you video over time and then speed it up…BAM, it becomes obvious that it is changing and shrinking!

Think of when you dump some ice into your sink.  If you stand there and watch it…nothing much seems to be happening, but if you go away and come back in an hour, then the ice is either completely gone or mostly gone.

Getting fit, healthy, and in better shape is a lot like that. Seeing the day to day changes is a lot like watching an ice cube melt.  It is hard to see, but if you keep at it, keep doing a little bit at a time and take teeny tiny steps, eventually you’ll see progress.  Eventually you’ll see the fat shrink away, kinda like those melting glaciers.

My “Results” for last week / My “Goals” for this week:

Here were my very modest goals for last week:

  • Mixed Bag - Some good Some not so goodDo the morning numbers at least 5 days – seven would be better
    — I did.  Exactly 5.  I missed two days.

    • Goal for this week: do all morning measurements for all 7 days!
  • Take my daily meds both am & pm all seven days
    — I missed 2 pm doses and 1 am does

    • Goal for this week: do ALL AM & PM does – no misses.  This a big deal because I’m a diabetic and I have high blood pressure!
  • Lift 3 days
    — Yeah right!  Didn’t do a single day. Ugh.

    • Goal for this week: Lift for 3 days
  • Move 2 days
    — YAY!!!!  I actually met my goal and more.  I “moved” FOUR DAYS!!!

    • Goal for this week: Move 3 days
  • Stretch 6 days
    — Uhmmm…. failed horribly on this one… only ONE day did I do any stretching

    • Goal for this week: Stretch 6 days
  • Use Slim-Fast for breakfast & lunch at least 5 days – seven would be better.
    — I did this, I think, kinda, sorta, mostly, more than not…I started off tracking this and then stopped, but my somewhat faulty memory of the week tells me that even if I didn’t do this exactly as planned, I did it MOST of the time! 

    • Goal for this week: Use Slim-Fast for breakfast & lunch at least 5 days 

It’s always going to be a mixed bag

That last goal up above pretty much sums things up.  The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.  Life gets complicated very fast and plans go astray.  But as long as you’re doing SOMETHING, you will make progress.

Glaciers are built up one snow flake at a time.  They melt one drop of water at a time.

Getting fit is like that, it requires dedication and quite a bit of patience.

Now for the numbers:

Slow Progress is still ProgressI started my newest “fitness effort”  about two weeks ago when I got on the scale and freaked out at how much I had gained during the Pandemic.

I started recording my weight on Nov 28th — on that date my numbers were:

  • Weight 299.8 lbs
  • Body Fat: 42.65%
  • Muscle: 25%
  • Visceral Fat: 30%

Now, as of yesterday, Dec 7th, my numbers are:

  • Weight 292 lbs — Loss of 7.8 lbs
  • Body Fat: 42.25% — Loss of .4 %
  • Muscle: 23.6% — Loss of 1.4% — Not good!  I need to loose Fat, not muscle
  • Visceral Fat: 30% — same.  No change

See ya on the dance floor! 🙂

 

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