About 53 And Getting Fit - My Journey From 270 LBS to Fitness!

Sometimes irreverent, sometimes wise, sometimes a real bonehead. Whatever....

Day 90 – Reflections Of My Journey… So Far

Career change.  These are words that produce a certain amount of anxiety especially when the career change requires a state license. Part of the reason for the long silent period between blogs lately is because I did not want to be part of the 50% who fail the 4 hour long state exam the first time so I was spending a lot of time studying for it.  Now that I have taken the exam and passed it  (I almost aced it), I am back to paying attention to my blog… and workouts… and eating habits…  Throughout my break I rarely went to the rec center but maintained, for the most part, my healthy diet.  As a result, I am still between 245 and 250 pounds.  Now that my days will be fuller with my new career, I will have to figure out how I will work in my workout.

Here is what is NEW:

JUICING
I have learned when things happen three times in a row it is usually God trying to tell me something.  This time it was juicing.  The first instance happened when Mandi (my beautiful daughter) told me about a juicing bar she discovered near her home.  She said one of the owners became sick and standard medicine didn’t work so he turned to juicing.  In time he recovered and believed in juicing so much he opened a juice bar.  The next instance happened when my friend Warren told me about the movie Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead, which is about a man who became sick and, like the juice bar owner, medicine didn’t help so he turned to juicing, as well.  Finally, one of my emails from a health subscription mentioned the alternative to preparing a meal was to concoct a juice and drink it for instant super nutrients.  Three times is the charm so being the Type-A guy I am, I went to the fridge and started throwing things in the blender.

Juicing is taking veggies and fruit and making a juice from them to replace or supplement a meal.  It can be done in a blender or in a juicer and I don’t mean the kind that you had as a kid where you twisted the orange on it to get the juice out.  Nope.  The juicers they use now start at $150 and go up.  These old juicers can’t juice a carrot but the new ones can.  Since I don’t yet have a juicer I throw it all into the blender, add water and turn on the blender until is pulverizes everything into a light pulp.It can be messy but it can also be fun and it is very healthy.  Here is one of my favorite recipes:

1/2 Red Pepper
1 Banana
12 – 15 Red Grapes
1/8 Cantaloup
Handful of Spinach Greens
1 Small Tomato
1/2 Lemon

Next, fill the hopper 3/4 with water and let her rip.  My blender does a poor job of pulping the grape skins but who cares.  It comes out kind of thick but you get used to drinking it all down in no time.  I know it doesn’t sound appetizing but it tastes surprisingly good. I find that through juicing I am eating foods every day that I normally would not eat.  As a result, I feel healthier and I am eating less.  Warning!  Juicing may cause more frequent trips to the restroom.  I now have at least one juice concoction a day and sometimes two.

LOCALLY GROWN FOOD
Living in a rural area offers a treasure of food sources I have just recently become aware of.  Within ten miles from my house I have discovered a Guernsey farm that sells farm fresh milk, farm fresh eggs, and farm fresh butter.  The farmer keeps it all in a refrigerator in his garage where people wander in, take what they need and leave the money in jar. There are no hormones or steroids and the cows are happy so there are no stress toxins in the milk.  Pam and I have discovered the milk tastes different when it is straight from the cow.  It is sweeter, creamier, and just plain awesome.  In fact, it is so creamy we discovered it is a great replacement for half and half in our coffee.  The farmer says that the balance of protein and fat in his milk is such that is actually less fattening than processed whole milk at the grocery store even though it has a higher fat content.  Not sure how that works but if you can’t trust an Okie farmer who can you trust?

I also discovered local farmers sell their fresh produce in the parking lot of the Expo Center in Claremore every Saturday morning.  We can buy almost anything and it is all organic with no artificial coloring or chemicals added.  And, there is an Amish butcher shop that sells any cut of meat you can imagine.  The prices for this locally grown, healthy food is far cheaper than Whole Foods Market and is fresher.  I love it.

MY OWN GARDEN
I have never been interested in keeping a veggie garden. But, since finding my favorite veggies at the farmer’s market is sometimes a crap shoot I decided to grow my own red peppers, poblanos, and sweet onions.  Again, being a Type-A personality I just couldn’t stop there. Pam and I also planted green beans, broccoli, and a host of other veggies.  Not only is it healthy, it is also fun.  In fact, this may turn out to be a hobby.

When I think back to January it is amazing how much has changed in our lives – especially mine.  Before I was fat, felt tired all the time, and in a rut.  The company where I worked was a cesspool of stress and mismanaged by a guy who has no business in business.  I ate too much and what I did eat was slowly killing me.  Today, I have a new career, I eat healthy and happily, I work out and I feel great.  In fact, I am finding I am rethinking a lot of things.  With all these physical improvements I am starting to reflect on who I am, as well.  The idea of being a better husband, father,and friend is becoming even more important than ever to me.  If I can improve what I put into my body I can also improve what I put into my spirit.  I am just liking life much more today than I have in years.

End of Day 90

Day 51 – What Do Green Dogs, Guinness Beer, and Michael O’ Rourke Have In Common? Well…

Kilkenny's Pub

Michael O’Rourke rose to our collective memories this past weekend as we indulged in Irish festivities at Kilkenny’s Irish Pub in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  Michael O’Rourke, my great, great grandfather, is the immigrant ancestor who made his way to America from Ireland to begin a new life. As the legend goes, Michael was forced to leave Ireland, along with his brother Patrick, because of his affiliation with the IRA and the British crown’s desire for his head.  Patrick later became a Catholic priest in Wilmington, Delaware, and Michael got a job on an island in the Chesapeake Bay where he worked one week on and one week off. Eventually, Michael married and started a family.  Ironically, after Michael found peace in America, he was run over and killed by a ship in the Chesapeake Bay while rowing to work.

Now, every year my family dawns our Irish familiars and heads to our favorite authentic Irish pub to hoist a pint to our heritage and to our immigrant father and IRA refugee, Michael O ‘Rourke.  In fact, we raised far more than just a pint.  As our own tradition has developed over the years we found ourselves (my wife and adult children) in an annual toast fest featuring a shot of Michael Collins Irish whiskey and at least one Irish Car Bomb (a mixture of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Guinness beer).  Of course, the day would not be complete without an Irish meal featuring either a Shepherd’s Pie or my favorite, Shepherd’s Seafood Pie. This year my wife’s boss joined us for a time during our celebration and surprised us with a stack of pizzas to help get us by between meals.

I say all this to introduce the fact that I did not do well on my commitment to my eating and exercise plan.  In fact, when I weighed in on Monday I weighed an astonishing 251 pounds – up six pounds from my low of 245.  Is it possible to gain that much weight in just a couple of days?  Apparently so.  It seems the chemistry of the super carbs from the whole grains, cheese and other processed foods along with the proteins metabolized into  stored fat.  Two other factors were my body saw an opportunity to store up after being regulated to smaller portions for months and my colon was probably much fuller than normal.  The result – six pounds.

My immediate reaction was grave disappointment.  I worked so hard and now in one day I throw away at least two weeks of work.  After the disappointment wore off I flew into Type-A personality mode and headed for the gym for some self imposed Irish penance.  Big mistake.  Here’s a hint:  never try to lose all the weight you recently gained in one workout.  It doesn’t work.  The result may be a pound or two but the pain will linger for days.  The best thing to do is get back into the normal routine and be patient.  I had to learn the hard way.

Today, I am 248 and falling.  I had a moderate workout today mixed with patience and a little rebellion from muscles I had forgotten about.  My diet is back to normal but the memories of my Irish celebration and my great, great grandfather Michael O’ Rourke still linger.  In fact, I think I may relive the moment this evening with Pam along with a Guinness and a fine cigar at Kilkenny’s Irish Pub in Tulsa.  After all, if there is one thing I have learned from Michael O’ Rourke – you never know when your time is up so you better enjoy every minute with the ones you love.

I hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

End of Day 51.

Day 46 – Tight Jeans, Trigycerides, and Infomercials

Weight:  246
Workout:  Run, walk, sprint – 80 deep knee bends, 30 push-ups, lower body circuit
Breakfast:  Egg, sausage
Lunch:  Tri-tip steak, red pepper (raw), half orange
Dinner:  Chicken and fried red/green bell peppers

Those of us who have experienced a wide range of numbers on the scale have several things common.  First, most of us have a few token articles of clothing we have kept around from a time when we could fit in them.  I don’t understand why this is. People generally get rid of the things they can no longer use but for some reason unknown to science people who gain weight over time always keep a few things around that no longer fit our larger structure.  I think it is a milestone thing, like we somehow knew we would pass that way again.  My old collection included two pairs of jeans that have been hanging in my closet for at least six years – one black, one blue.  The other day I tried them on for kicks and to my surprise they fit.  The black ones were a little tight but I could get them zipped up which is a feat that has escaped me for a long time.

Another thing we have in common is a general distrust (and disgust) of anything that can be purchased with three equal payments and has a money back guarantee.  This would include Zumba, Insanity, Fitness Gym, Magic Abs and all the rest of the get-fit infomercials on TV.  I wish these people would just once have someone with a 30 day before and after picture that resembles mine.  Get real. No amount of money in the world can transform a 350 pound man into a lean, mean, buffed up,175 pound, ab chiseled krunk of a man in just 30 days for three equal payments of $29.99.  I find it intellectually dishonest and personally insulting due to the fact it makes me feel like I will never look like the ex-fat guy turned Schwarzenegger unless I pony up with a credit card.  Guess what fitness gurus, I don’t need you.  Actually, I am intrigued with the idea of putting my routine on a DVD and selling it for three equal payments to people who want to get healthy.  I should get something out of all my research.  Right?

I went and had my annual check-up and something interesting happened.  My doctor called me several days after the blood test to tell me my triglycerides were at 270.  When I asked what a triglyceride was he told me it was fat in the blood.  The last time I was tested my triglycerides were 125 so he was curious if I had changed my diet.  Well… yes as a matter of a fact I have.  I told him about the Paleo plan and he surprisingly supported the plan but  insisted I take 1000 MGs of Omega 3 Fish Oil twice a day and come back in 90 days to be retested.  The blood test also reported my cholesterol was 134 and everything else was within the norms.

With everything there is going to be adjustments and corrections.  As these things go, Fish Oil is a minor one to contend with.  At least I  won’t be trying to return my Zumba program for a full refund because it didn’t make me look like Tarzan in 30 days.

Day 42 – Honey, Cinnamon, and Delirium!

It has been a while since my last post largely because I have been plagued with an annoying cough and sinus issues.  In other words, I have been sick and like most men who get sick the world stops.  I don’t know why it is but when women get sick they seem to plug away at life only slightly affected by what ails them but when men get a cough and a stuffy nose we end up on the sofa unable to get up and take the trash out.  That is what happened to me this weekend.  On Thursday evening I began to feel a little tickle in my chest and by Friday afternoon I was glued to the sofa in my PJs watching reruns of old 007 Bond movies and drinking cough syrup. My friend Warren and my son both had similar symptoms and their run with the crud lasted more than two months.  I was dreading the worst.

The turn around came on Friday night.  Pam had received an email about the wonders of cinnamon and honey.  In the email was a honey/cinnamon remedy for a chest cough.  She brewed it up and gave it to me to drink.  Rarely do we ever get to experience anything close to a miracle but that is what it felt like after I drank the potion.  Immediately, my cough and the itch in my chest ceased.  The instructions said to continue the treatment for three days and today is the third day.  I have never been a big fan of home remedies or homeopathic medicine but I am a believer today.  If you are suffering from this season’s bug, try the following:

1 – Tablespoon of Honey warmed
1/4 – Teaspoon of cinnamon mixed well with the honey.
Drink it down three times a day for three days.  Shabam!

It turns out there are several applications for this miraculous elixir.  Look for a new page on this site that will list all the remedies for many conditions including obesity.  It should be done in a couple of days if not sooner.

My weight on Thursday fell to an all time low of 245 but since I have been relegated to the sofa I have increased to 248 pounds due to the fact I like to eat when I get sick because it quells the squeamish stomach (from all the drainage…)

I obviously didn’t work out during this time but plan to return to the rec center tomorrow.  I confess I fell off the wagon and indulged in some BAD food while I was ill.  I think I was delirious.  But I am back now and more determined than ever to forge on to victory!

End of Day 42

Day 36 – SACRIFICE!

Weight:  246 (-3)
Workout:  20 minute run, 10 minute walk, 50 Deep Knee Bends, 35 pushups, circuit
Breakfast:  Grapes, carrots
Lunch:  Tri-tip steak, red pepper (raw), half orange
Dinner:  Pork Sausage (Whole Foods Market), half red pepper, tomato, ¼ orange

I made another worthwhile sacrifice today:  I gave up my beloved Coffee Mate creamer.  If there was an FBI most wanted list of ingredients that are harmful, you will find them on the Coffee Mate creamer label.  The thing is, I never used cream in my coffee until a about 10 years ago when I went on the Atkins diet.  Starbucks offers an Atkins latte that uses heavy cream instead of milk.  Wow! I couldn’t get enough of these things!  When I failed at the Atkins diet like everybody does, I had to stop using heavy cream in my coffee and switched to milk.  Another wave of self improvement made me switch to Coffee Mate thinking it was better for me.  What did I gain by this? Nothing.  I still got the fat but added all the crap like HFCS.  So, good-bye Coffee Mate.  It’s back to milk in my coffee, for now.

It is important to point out something here about the concept of “sacrifice.”  The word sacrifice is a bad word for most of us.  It was for me for a long time.  Sacrifice denotes loss, pain and the uncomfortable feeling of having to do without.  The truth is, sacrifice should be one of those things we revisit from time to time to tweak our lives for the better.  All of us have things in our lives that need to go.  Things like unhealthy habits, gossip, lying, judgmentalism, racism, and even some people in our lives.  When any of these things become so embedded in our lives that the thought of losing them registers as a sacrifice it is time for them to go.  Sacrifice is usually not a bad thing; it is usually an uncomfortable thing that simply needs to be.  For me, Coffee Mate was one of those things.  So was Patty Cahoun in the second grade.  Oh well, what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger. Right?

Since I have been at a plateau for a week I decided to bust out yesterday with a strenuous workout and it worked.  I lost three pounds and am now at 246.  I ran 2.5 miles, did 50 deep knee bends, 35 pushups, went back to the track and power walked another mile and then hit the weights.  I am a little sore this morning but any soreness is outweighed by the results of a breakthrough.  When I break 245 I will have passed my lowest weight in over 12 years. I hope that happens this week.

End of Day 36

Day 35 – Hormones Anyone?

Armed with my new knowledge of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and the many health dangers associated with it, I dawned my wife’s reading glasses (I couldn’t find mine) and headed to Whole Foods Market for our weekly grocery shopping. The idea was to ensure we reduced or eliminated HFCS from our family’s diet. Unfortunately, this effort opened a whole-nuther (see Oklahoma dictionary) can of worms for me.

Last week after learning about HFCS I discovered all my favorite yogurts used HFCS as a sweetener – so I tossed them. My youngest daughter told me about how much she liked Greek yogurt and suggested I try some. So, while at Whole Foods Market I went hunting for a healthy Greek yogurt to replace my HFCS laced yogurt. As I peered through my wife’s reading glasses at the various labels I noticed a statement on several of them. It read, “No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from cows treated with hormones and milk from non-treated cows.” What? What does that mean? So I looked it up and found an FDA Guidance Document claiming there is no danger in these hormones and producers are allowed to use this phrase on their products. What it really means is the yogurt makers with this statement are using milk from hormone treated cows and the others are not. More research on the subject turned up several articles contradicting the FDA findings and suggest there are health dangers associated with the controversial rBGH, IGF-1, rbST and bST hormones given to cows to increase milk production. Particularly, the rBGH and the IGF-1 hormones can cause colon, breast, and prostate cancers according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition (click here for article).

I suppose the question is how many people have to get sick or die while the FDA gives a wink and nod to food producers who put dangerous chemicals, hormones, steroids, and cancer causing substances in our food so they can squeeze every ounce of production out of every animal? And why, with so many reliable counter claims, does the FDA approve these practices? Instead of the Health and Human Services Dept. (governing agency of the FDA) arguing about who is going to get free contraceptives they should be looking into serious issues like dangerous hormones used in cows and other issues where there is solid evidence of health threats. That is why the FDA was established!

In the end I bought OIKOS Greek Blueberry yogurt and it was really, really good.

I am at yet another plateau as I weigh in anywhere between 248 and 250 depending on the day.  Perhaps I need to change up my workouts again.

As each week passes the type and quantity of food I eat changes. I would say about 60% of my food intake is meat, 20% veggies, 15% fruit, and 5% other. The only processed food I am eating now is my hormone free OIKOS yogurt. This week I am aiming at losing five pounds.

End of Day 35

Day 32 – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Mexican Resaurant

Yesterday was one of those days when the Earth’s alignment with the quadratic oblishere makes weird things happen. One of those things was the biological became bio-illogical.  I met Warren at Eggberts for our regular social time together.  All we talked about was food and the progress both of us are making in our efforts to get healthy.  Warren is dealing with  diabetes and is in the process of changing everything about his eating habits as I am but his approach is a bit more conventional.  He ate a healthy breakfast and I had a western omelet with extra crispy hash browns.

After breakfast I headed to town to help a friend who owns a Mexican restaurant.When I was finished helping he offered to buy me lunch.  Sounded good to me so I sat down at a booth and looked over the menu to find something that resembled whole foods.  Nothing.  My friend told me the special of the day was the Chili Relleno.  After a brief conflict of values I ordered the Chili Relleno but without cheese on top or the rice.  It was awesome!  This was the first break from my paleo/primal diet since I started last month.  I was beginning to feel quite guilty but the indulgences were really, really good.

After Pam got off of work we met at Baker Street Pub in town for a little wind down from our day.  When we got there Big Mike was there with his wife.  When you meet a friend at a pub your plans typically change and this was one of those times.  Mike is very social and quite entertaining so we stayed a bit longer than we should have.  Again, I broke my rules and had a couple of Guinness beers – being Irish and all. In fact, I’ll confess it was probably more than a couple.   When it was time to hit the sack I dreaded the scale the next morning.

I stepped on the scale about 6:30 this morning and – hmmmm – I dropped a pound.  My weight today is 248 despite my over indulgence yesterday.  This makes up for some of the plateaus I have experienced in the past.  Did I mention I didn’t work out yesterday?  Go figure!  (What does that mean, anyway?)

Of course I won’t make it a habit to cross the line like I did yesterday but I discovered I don’t have to be so much of a crusader.  Besides, today Earth is not aligned with the quadratic oblishpere so it is back to the logics of the biological.  Too bad, today’s special is fajitas.

End of Day