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.

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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 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 30 – First Month Wrap-Up

Weight:  249 (even)
Workout:  10 minutes elliptical
Breakfast:  Half banana, small hamburger patty
Lunch:  Charlies Chicken 1/4 rotisserie dark, green beans, half banana
Dinner:  Pulled pork, colored peppers fried in coconut oil, carrots

One month ago I started on the journey to lose weight and get back in shape.  In the last 30 days I have lost 21 pounds, shaped up, got my wind, and in the process discovered I have made a major lifestyle change that I hope is sustainable for the rest of my life.  But more importantly, I have learned a great deal about the Great America Diet – and it is not good.  In just 30 days I think I have just scratched the surface.  For me it is more than weight loss and fitness.  At 53, it is also about long term health.  Here is what I have achieved so far:

  • I discovered what toxins and antioxidants are and how they play a role in our health.
  • I discovered much of the meat we eat is stuffed with steroids and hormones because the meat processors and ranchers want more, faster.
  • I discovered whole grains are not as good for you as everyone wants you to think.
  • I discovered regular exercise leads to a sharper mind and may reduce my chances of contracting a brain centered disease like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
  • I discovered high fructose corn syrup replaced natural sugar in our diets almost overnight in 1975 resulting in an onslaught of lifestyle diseases in America like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and many mental health issues.
  • I discovered common joint pain is caused by cell oxidation and toxins but can be eliminated quickly with proper diet, exercise and antioxidants.
  • My cholesterol is steady at 144.
  • My blood pressure is steady at around 100/60.
  • I feel better about myself.

The health results have been quick and sure.  I think clearer, breath better, am not plagued with seasonal allergies, emotionally more stable, sleep less, have more energy, look better, don’t suffer from joint pain anymore, more focused and eat less while feeling more satisfied.

If this is the first time reading this blog you may be wondering how I accomplished so much in such a short period of time.  It is simple.  I have adopted the paleo/primal diet, I exercise, and I take certain antioxidants.  It is so easy a caveman could do it!

As I continue I am learning more and more thanks to people like my daughter, Mandi, Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple, the Paleo Plan, Dr. Mercola and many more.  Thank you all for your esteemed wisdom and willingness to share it personally with me.

Finally, to all the super seniors at the Claremore Recreation Center I want to say I appreciate your youthful desire to hit the weights and track to stay healthy.  Yes, I like to highlight some of your moments but as a pre-senior I hope I am as alive as you are when I am your age. Click here to meet the prototypical seniors at the rec center.

Next month my goals are:

  • Lose a minimum of 15 more pounds
  • Tweak my diet to improve my healthy food intake even more
  • Incorporate sprints into my exercise plan

Also, I have enjoyed all the blogs authored by so many.  I appreciate your support, as well, and I look forward to reading about your insights and adventures in March.

God Bless!

End of Day 30!

Day 29 – In the 240’s!


Weight:  249 (-1)
Workout:  2 mile run/lower body weight training
Breakfast:  Half banana, carrot
Lunch:  Zio’s Tomato Florentine soup/small Caesar’s salad
Dinner:  Ham, veggie medley, pear

My warm-up today was a 2 mile run.  My knee has not hurt for about a week so I decided to give it a try on the track today.  It worked out fine except for that stubborn woman who felt like the rules of the track didn’t apply to her.   Seems she felt she could walk in the jogging lane at the rec center.  Ma’am, that is against the rules, which, by the way, are prominently posted every 20 feet along the wall of the track.  Can you not see the HUGE signs that hang above the jogging lane that say, “Joggers Only”?  Certainly you don’t consider what you are doing jogging, do you?  Really?

Aside from texting on the track, there is nothing more annoying than walkers in the jogging lane.  Well, there is something more annoying than that.  For some reason the staff at the rec center has decided to clean the track with a giant rolling cleaning machine during the middle of the day causing the joggers to do this “bob and weave” move out of necessity when the bottle neck happens. As I said earlier, the 3 lane track is upstairs and circles the two basketball courts below it.  Imagine a huge vacuum cleaner going around it while there are people walking and jogging.   Not fun.

Come to think of it, there is one more thing even more annoying than walking in the jogging lane or dodging the big cleaning machine.  I have learned that exercise causes the gastro system to work faster causing the release of certain methane gases while one exercises.  On senior days this can be quite compelling and challenging especially for those of us who jog and breath heavy.  For some reason seniors are not as self conscious about that sort of thing.

After the run I headed for the weights on the circuit machines for a lower body workout.  It turns out I am much stronger in my lower half than I am my upper half.  To do the proper amount of reps on the lower back extension machine I need more than the 300 pounds of weights on the machine.  I can do 27 reps at 300 pounds before I feel the heat.  The same is almost true with the leg extension machine.  On the other hand the hip abductor is the machine from the pit of hell.  With only 40 pounds I felt what women must feel when they give birth.  Why again do I need these muscles?  Another discovery I made was on the glute extension machine.   I learned my left glute is stronger than my right glute. I can’t help but wonder why that is.  What do I do with my left glute that I don’t do with my right glute?  Since they travel as a perfect pair I can’t understand how one is stronger than the other. Is that even possible?  This, of course, is not something I will mention to the guys at the cigar lounge when they ask me how things are going at the gym, but my wife found it quite interesting.

I am now in the 240s and my shape is looking much better.  I am finding I am eating less naturally and I stay fuller longer.  Except for one day, I have been feeling like I have more energy and I feel generally better.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a significant drop in my weight.

By the way, if you don’t have a Zio’s restaurant in your town – too bad.  The Tomato Florentine soup is magnificent!  Please don’t tell me if it has any high fructose corn syrup in it.  I would appreciate it very much.

End of Day 29

Day 23 – New Low… 250 Pounds!

It is official!  My scale delivered the good news of a new low of 250 pounds. That is 20 pounds lost since I began this journey late last month.  The great thing about this experience is I am never hungry and I feel very healthy although this morning I am extremely sore from my work outs over the last two days. 

What I did not blog about was my 30 minute experience on the elliptical that left my calves craving morphine.  It seems when you get over 50 the muscle pain comes two days after the work out and lasts two days longer than when I was 30.  This morning, after taking Mandi’s advice yesterday, my upper body muscles are competing with my calves to see who can make me grimace the most when I move.   But, no pain – no gain.  Although Mandi’s new work out routine is producing a muscle mutiny I know it won’t last long. 

The visit to the weight doctor was this morning and everyone in the office was very surprised at my progress.  Some of the counselors asked what I was doing so I told them about the Mandi work out routine and the diet based on the Paleo program.  As it turns out, they do not recommend that diet because it interferes with the HCG shots many of their patients use.  Seems the HCG shot is aimed at the body fat so there are fat intake restrictions for those on HCG.  Let me say this without trying to be judgmental or arrogant.  You don’t need HCG!  It is a hormone from pregnant women’s urine.  You just need to eat healthy.  Try the Paleo and watch the weight fall off.  Remember, my mother-in-law was overweight and never worked out.  She lost most of her fat weight simply by giving up bread, pasta and soft drinks.  It is not rocket science.

Tomorrow I will introduce you to Jed and Elroy from the rec center. Now that I have been there a month I have apparently achieved good-ol-boy status with some of the senior regulars and what a hoot they are. My conversation with Jed about global warming was quite insightful and Elroy has brought a whole new meaning to gym fashion. Read about it tomorrow.

End of Day 22

Day 22 – Mandi To the Rescue!

For the past week I have laid off any strenuous work outs because of the injury to my knee from over doing it on the running track (see Day 16 – Dyn-o-mite!).  The injury also coincided with my birthday week so it was awesome to see my weight remain at 253 pounds without gaining.  Wanting to get back to the rec center I called my daughter, Mandi, a very knowledgeable person who takes her health seriously, and asked her advice about how to proceed with working out in order to lose weight.

Keep in mind this is for a 53 year old man with no health problems other than weight.

This was some of her response:

Hey Dad! I did some research and talked to John about your workout plans, and I came up with a list of some suggestions that I think might help/improve your workouts.

  • Weightlifting routines can cater to one of two things: power or endurance. To build power, fewer reps are better. A power routine would be something like doing three sets of 8 or 9 reps for each machine in the circuit. I imagine you’ve already got plenty of power, and if you’re concerned about joint and ligament pain, focus on muscle endurance instead (it will allow your muscles to develop the ability to withstand future workouts without injury). Do three sets of 12-16 reps for each exercise. You should barely be able to finish the last rep. It’s a good idea to take a rest day between weightlifting sessions to allow your muscles to recover (again, preventing injury). A fun way to do this is to work out the upper body one day and the lower body the next (and you can do aerobic work about 5 days a week, but take at least one to two days a week off from that as well).
  • On elliptical machines, treadmills, or running, an alternative to slogging away for half an hour is to cut that time in half and do intervals. For instance, (after a warm-up), go five minutes at a relatively easy pace, then one minute at, say, 90% of your maximum effort. A few intervals of that will get your heart rate pumping harder than a long-slog, which burns more calories more quickly and prevents your knee from enduring at least some repetitive movements, which may help reduce pain. Keeping your body surprised is one of the best ways to lose weight and get fit. Interval training does just that. (Try googling “interval training” to get more information on this. It makes your workout so much more effective and is the foundation for CrossFit, which is considered one of the best current workout trends).
  • Find a running store somewhere and invest in a good foam roller. Some running stores will also offer classes to teach you rolling techniques, which can improve your workout and avoid injury. The one John and I use is called the Rumble Roller (in black, which, with foam rollers, indicates the firmest foam, but be warned, it can really hurt!). Use it before and after work outs (you can watch videos on youtube of people using foam rollers). It’s a good idea to use one regularly, because it helps push lactic acid out of your muscles, which will help prevent soreness, and it helps eliminate trigger points (the places where your myofacial tissue needs to be ironed out…..you’ll know it when/if you have any trigger points when you roll over them….it’ll bring a tear to your eye. When you find sensitive spots, spend 30 seconds or so rolling slowly back and forth over that area. After a few sessions, you’ll feel better). Don’t roll onto or over joints, just in between them. Think of myofacial tissue as a shirt. If it’s wrinkled, it’s not going to lie as nicely when you put it on. If you iron the wrinkles out, the fabric moves more fluidly over your body, fitting more correctly. Your myofacial tissue is the same way. It can get scars, or wrinkles, that prevent your body from moving as effectively as it could otherwise. By using a roller, you can iron out the wrinkles, adding flexibility to the tissue, reducing pain, and improving your workout.
  • Muscle is heavy. It weighs considerably more than fat, so if you lift weights regularly, you will gain a moderate amount of weight in muscle. The benefits of that though are tremendous. The tearing down and building up of muscle caused by weightlifting will have you burning calories during and well after you workout, even as you sleep. Stronger muscles require more energy, which your body will take primarily from your fat stores. Long story short, more muscle leads to less fat, so don’t worry about the weight you’d gain from muscle; it will be way offset by the amount of fat you’ll lose, and it will hasten your weight loss, not hamper it. The most effective weight-loss regimens now focus heavily on weightlifting.
  • Consider seeing someone from Airrosti, or someone who specializes in myofascial tissue work to monitor knee pain. It’s good to start treatments early so you can avoid further or more permanent/long term injury.
  • Ice (don’t heat) the knee for 20 minutes, take a 20 minute break, and then ice for 20 more minutes after exercise. Do not ice before working out.
  • Always start with a 10 or 15 minute warm-up, and cool down after aerobic exercise. Walking for 10 minutes is a nice cool down. It helps prevent injury.
  • Do not “push through pain” when lifting weights or engaging in aerobic activity. Pain means you’re using too much weight or going too far. If there’s pain even when you’re not exercising, rest the knee completely until the pain stops, and then pick back up using lighter weight. If you’re worried someone who is watching you might be judging you for the low weight you’re using, just tell them you’re rehabbing an injury (this is advice John gave me because I was embarrassed that I was lifting so little at the bench press).
  • Don’t obsess over the “weight number”. Keep other numbers in consideration, too. Measure inches lost. If you have access to a machine that measures body fat content, track that number. Track the amount of weight you’re lifting, time on the track, etc. Those numbers more accurately reflect health improvements than the numbers on the scale. Weight can be attributed to various factors (water retention, muscle mass vs. fat content, etc.) while the other numbers are more straightforward as to their cause. Remember that the goal is health and weight is only one factor of the equation.  John is suggestion taking a picture of yourself once a week (one picture flexing, one picture relaxed), and comparing each weeks photo to the last. You will be able to compare your overall improvements each week and see how your body is changing for the better.

You’re doing great Dad! I liked reading about your new cravings (sweet potatoes and peppers). I crave broccoli like crazy when I’m working out and being healthy.  Our bodies are neat, complex things and I’m really glad to hear that you’re taking care of yours so well lately.  I hope these tips and things help!!

Love you!
Mandi

Thanks Mandi, great advice!

The knee felt fine today so I took Mandi’s advice and surprised my body by doing a 20 minute warm-up on the recumbent bike followed by a rather hard weight work out on the circuit.  Today, I did only upper body machines and applied just the right amount of weight on each to as Mandi suggested – 3 sets of 12 to 18 reps resulting in the last rep turning me purple.   Tomorrow I will do lower body machines the same way.  I was at the rec center for just over an hour and feel pleasantly worked out.  For some reason the knee is a little sore but not debilitating like last week.

Breakfast consisted of a banana strawberry yogurt, cup of coffee and a couple of bites of a pear.  This doesn’t sound like much but believe me, it filled me up.  After my work out I had a hamburger patty with a sliced Roma tomato.  Tonight, I will be enjoying a light salad, bean soup, and some left over smoked butt!

Hopefully, tomorrow will mark a new low in my weight.  The other advice about the progress pics – yup, be warned, they are coming.

End of Day 22