Worldview: The Rambling Road: A matter of motion

A little over four years ago, I bought a Fitbit One. I bought the device because I was just on the tail end of having lost 65 pounds, dropping from around 340 to 275 over the course of a couple of years. That weight loss was mostly the result of specific dietary changes, especially the near elimination of soy from my diet as the result of an allergy to soy proteins.

My theory behind buying the Fitbit was to help me keep the progress of that weight loss going and to help me achieve a minimum level of fitness. Four years later, that very same device tells a tale, and its not one I wanted to hear.

It turns out, way back in 2013, I did a lot of research into what a “minimum level of fitness” would mean for me. After all that research, I concluded that around 5,000 steps a day, a mere 35,000 steps a week, would meet the goal I was trying to achieve.

Now, I know what the multitude of “experts” say. I read many of them, and I concluded that, and the end of it all, your mileage may vary as far as their expertise is concerned. My conclusions were based on me and my fitness level at the time, and I’m sure, if I had followed my own advice, it would have made a difference.

You see, the story that Fitbit tells me is that, based on my own determinations, I should have walked about 7.5 million steps by around now. Instead, as of today, I’ve walked a mere 2.3 million steps. Even allowing for the fact that I didn’t use my Fitbit at all for six months last year, the fact is that I’ve walked less than half the amount of steps I determined I should have to achieve a minimum level of fitness for me.

The fact is that I am a quintessential example of the modern sedentary lifestyle. Sure, I run a farm, but my physical output comes in fits and starts, and for a while now, not as frequently. And the fact is that this reality starts with not bothering to walk a measly 5,000 steps a day.

It would be easy for me to make some kind of grand pronouncement here about how I’m going to change all that, but I’m not going to. The story my Fitbit tells me is that the changes I need to make to be even minimally fit are hard, and what it is going to take for me to achieve that goal may be beyond my grasp right now.

But, now I know, and knowing is its own kind of power.

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Pancreatitis makes my clothes fall off

..But, as my wife pointed out and with apologies to Joe Nichols, tequila would have been a lot cheaper…

Lame attempts at humor aside, since the beginning of January, I’ve lost more than 30 pounds as a result of a combination of not really being able to eat for almost two weeks, changes to how my body handles food due to illness and medication, and now being on a somewhat restricted diet missing, most notably, the foods that helped me get fat.

The result has been dramatic, involving everything from flappy skin on my legs and butt to losing a couple of cup sizes on my moobs (c’mon people, laugh). More importantly, I’ve lost several inches off my waist from a year ago, dropping four pant sizes.

This isn’t the way to lose weight I’d recommend to anyone, but it is interesting that one of the pieces of advice medical professionals and various individuals have been giving me for more than a decade finds its realization in illness. It appears my body decided I needed to lost the weight even if my mind was reluctant to do so. The secret, of course, is to keep that weight off in the long term.

Maybe that tequila will come in handy after all…

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: Experiments

Last week, I learned the hard lesson of not eating too much at one time, something I hope I don’t soon forget. But, the experience got me to thinking about the side effects, especially as they relate to my blood sugar that I am monitoring twice a day.

When I went into the hospital, my numbers were dangerously high (along with apparently everything else being dangerously out of whack…), but a regular course of insulin injections brought them down to more manageable levels. Since I’ve been home, my numbers have still been high, but far better than they were.

What I wanted to find out is whether I could affect those numbers even more by changing my approach to what, how, and when I am eating, how much water I am drinking, when I am taking related medications, and how much physical activity I am getting.

Granted, those are a lot of variables to monkey with at once, but they all have a common component of metabolism, and metabolism is a key factor in my greatest risk factor, that being the fact that I am still well overweight.

As things stand now, I am waiting to eat until I am discernibly hungry, which means that I don’t have a regular meal time schedule as it is difficult to predict when I might be hungry. Further, I am consuming massive amounts of water, right now at least a gallon to a gallon and a half a day. I also increased the time between doses of my medication to spread it more evenly through the day. Finally, I am using a regime of “natural movement” exercises to increase my physical activity as I build up the stamina to do more.

I have been following this plan for about three days now, and the result is that my blood sugar number was in the “normal” ranger for the first time in quite a while yesterday afternoon and again tonight. Granted, this plan is not without cost, as I suspect some part of my fatigue is related to the change in quantity and timing of calorie intake, but my hope is that I can retrain by body to get used to the change and also lose weight in the process.

Presuming my numbers stay where they are supposed to be, I will continue this process for as long as it works or until I come up with something better.

DLH

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Worldview: Seven Stone: an Update

A couple of years ago, I announced to the world that I was actively trying to lose weight and increase my overall level of fitness. That pursuit has taken me down paths I did not anticipate and that not a few people thought would not work.

Nevertheless, over the past month, I have stepped on the scale three times to have it show me under 300 pounds for the first time in years. That means, over the last two-and-a-half years, I have lost 35 pounds and, more important to me, consistently kept them off. That may not seem like a lot to some people, but for someone who has struggled with his weight most of his adult life, it’s a fact that borders on a miracle.

I grant that I have a long way to go, but it is good to see that the process I imagined actually worked and appears to be continuing to work. I will document that process here for anyone who might care.

DLH

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Worldview: What’s my hangup?

So, I’ve been having this running battle for a while now about exercise. There are a not small number of people who have concluded, and not without justification, that I am opposed to exercise. While this is not really true, I don’t think I’ve explained myself well enough to help anyone come to a different conclusion.

In the midst of that battle, the issues I have been trying to figure out for myself have been lost in the face of the fact that I am, ultimately, looking to solve my weight and fitness goals in ways most other people aren’t. It’s helpful to layout what I am trying to do in the hopes that the dialog can help me figure out what I am trying to do.

First, let me be clear: I detest the traditional fitness routine most people follow. This is not an indictment of the fact that other people follow it, but the idea of exercising for exercise’s sake offends me on a level that has proven, given my state of weight and fitness, to be self-destructive. And this is not some kind of arbitrary revulsion. Over the course of years, I have discovered that the traditional fitness routine does not produce the results for me that it does for some people. The result has been that, for the time and effort invested, I see mediocre results, which leads to my secondary problem of torturing myself with all the things I would rather be doing instead of wasting my time with exercise that doesn’t produce results.

Now, some people will say this is a problem of the fact that I haven’t found the right routine, and I agree wholeheartedly. Hence my hangup. I realized years ago that the only way I am ever going to achieve any kind of level of fitness is if my exercise is my work and if my work is the thing I would rather be doing instead of wasting my time with exercise that doesn’t produce results.

In fact, I did that. I am now the proud manager and operator of a sustainable farm that I can assure you presents daily opportunities for activity that can meet or exceed the demands of all but the most extreme exercise routines. It’s such an effective program that last summer I lost nearly 30 pounds.

So, what’s the problem?

If you’ve ever carried a large amount of excess weight, you know that there are two problems to losing it; problems I refer to as hurdles. The first hurdle is losing enough weight that it actually starts making you feel better. How much weight that might be depends on the person and the circumstances, but for me, 30 pounds wasn’t enough yet. Feeling better is probably the most effective motivator out there, so not feeling better becomes its own special kind of demotivator.

The second hurdle is the fact that those first pounds can be very, very hard to lose. This hurdle leads directly back to my hangup: while my job on the farm offers the kind of activity I need–especially once I am more fit–my current level of fitness means that I need more activity than what I am currently able to do on the farm to see results. Achieving that level of activity means exercising for exercises sake.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

What all of these things then mean is that I need to find some sort of way to add the extra activity I need for long enough for it to matter without giving up because I hate it. As of yet, I have not discovered what this activity might be, and so I continue to struggle.

DLH

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Worldview: Seven Stone

While it’s uncomfortable to put such an admission out into the public space, the fact is that over the past decade and a half, I’ve gained a lot of weight. Frankly, I’m downright fat. There have been a lot of causes for this fact, some of which are my own fault and some of which are not, but the fact remains that I am overweight and, as a result, in declining health.

This year, I’ve decided to do something about it, and I’ve decided to share that experience with anyone interested in reading about it. Along the way, I hope that maybe my experience will inspire others to do the same.

I’m calling my effort “Seven Stone”, which is a reference to an old weight standard and the amount of weight I intend to lose. A stone is about 14 modern pounds, and yes, I intend to lose 98 pounds over the course of the coming year.

My method is simple. I bought a membership to the local YMCA to have access to its indoor track and weightlifting facilities. I’ve already been walking for about a week and a half, averaging about 1.3 miles per session and 7 sessions over the past 10 days. I bought a pedometer that connects to my computer and created both a HealtVault and WalkMe account to track my progress in real time. I’m also modifying my diet by dropping the habit I have of eating quick when I need to be eating healthy.

There’s no reason I can’t do this, but to make sure I’m putting it out here for everyone to see. If I fail, you’ll know. If I succeed, you’ll know. And maybe, we can work together to make ourselves better over the coming year.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...