Friday, May 03, 2013

Rich O 2.0 Part 2- What I'm Doing About It (Or The One Where Rich Learned To Love Egg Beaters-Yuck!)

So, where were we? Oh yeah, wake up call #3. It was like being hit over the head with a cast iron pan to try and wrap my head around high blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol all at once. The NP recommended I meet with the diabetic nurse in a couple weeks to get some insight into eating and diabetes and I agreed (ironically I had met with the same nurse back at the onset of the diabetes). She also recommended walking at least 30 minutes a day. Apparently from a blood circulation standpoint etc sustained movement is better then short, intense cardio. She also mentioned losing weight would go a long way towards lowering all 3 issues that I was experiencing. So I left the hospital and do what I typically do when taking on something new that's important to me. I set a plan in motion and jumped in headlong

The first thing I did was to prioritize and the order of importance was 1) blood sugar 2) exercise 3) weight loss 4) blood pressure & cholesterol. I figured #2 & #3 would help in #4. So I immediately purchased a new glucose meter and strips for of the moment blood sugar readings, a scale (for the first time in my life) and a blood pressure cuff. I made a promise to myself I'd only use the scale and cuff once a week to not drive myself crazy. I decided to go at this old school Atkins style by counting all net carbs and seeing the effect on my blood sugar (there's an app for that...more on that soon). I decided to finally take advantage of my new later work hours by getting up and walking before work. So bright and early the next morning (and every morning but one since) I walked 40-60 minutes at a brisk pace. It wasn't always as simple as it sounds as it was still butt cold and often rainy but I decided no excuses!! The harder part was giving up so many of my beloved homemade foods based on the high carb count or not getting accurate nutritional info like you can get on (ugh) packaged food. Just to clear the air on one thing, I generally ate very healthy 5 days and 4 nights a week. Weekends were my downfall. All those awesome, yummy, unhealthy pictures I tantalized you with were simply picture-posting worthy food and not typical of how I ate. That said I had no handle on how good or bad what I was ingesting was for me. So anyhow I was counting carbs, recording glucose, weighing in and taking my blood pressure and just before my meeting with the diabetic nurse all 3 had improved tho not dramatically (the drugs probably helped as well). The diabetic nurse was the one that really set me on the right path

So the nurse was a small, upper middle age woman who I had met before in 2003. She pretended she remembered me but cmon! Anyways she reviewed my A1C, where it was and where it should be. Told me to stop counting carbs and worry more about calories!! She said more people control their diabetes by common sense and weight loss then counting carbs.  We discussed the mix of proteins to carbs to fruits and veggies, which were best and when best to eat them (and best when to not eat them). We talked specifically about my lifestyle and work schedule and set forth an eating schedule. My new plan of attack was eating in a reverse pyramid of descending meal size starting with a big breakfast with carbs, protein, etc ending with dinner which would only be protein and veggies. Probably most important was a smaller meal while I was at work for the sake of energy, hunger management, blood sugar control and eliminating the need for a larger meal after 7:30. She also said some stuff I took with a grain of salt (buying smaller plates, special ordering food when I go out to dinner, throwing out anything unhealthy I have in my house, etc). I know my self control and know what I can and cannot handle. So, new information in hand I went on my merry way again

So I start some research on do's and don'ts and philosophy on calories in versus out to reach a preset goal. It wasn't easy so I thought to myself "self, there are options". I could join a group (nah, at heart I'm a loner when it comes to things like this) or send away for food (too much respect for food for that) or even some kind of OTC or prescription weight loss pills (sorry, explosive diarrhea ain't my thing). No, in the end I decided good old fashioned diet and exercise was my path. So I embraced my inner geek and figured "there's an app for that too". And there was. 3 intertwined apps in fact. My Fitness Pal to track net calories versus calories burned thru exercise became my new weight loss guide. I'll go over these 3 phone apps (also websites) in part 3 of this multi-part epic tale. I set my goal at 200 lbs and it gave me a net calories (calories from food less calories burned thru exercise) of 2050 daily to achieve this goal (it doesn't specify a date as how far you're over or under changes the projection). The morning walk and gym 3-4 times a week and having a job where I am pretty active have made the exercise part pretty easy. Next I had to learn how and when to use these calories. It's not as easy as it sounds as I'm dealing with pre-high cholesterol and pre-hypertension so certain foods (eggs, cold cuts, etc) which I was told were good based on calories and lack of carbs weren't good for some of my other issues. So now most of my breakfasts are Egg Beaters, bagel slims and leaner breakfast meats, lunch is home cooked protein in a sandwich or in a salad (I roast a turkey breast every single week) and dinner is mostly grilled meats and veggies. It's not perfect as there are always traps to everything but veggies and how food is prepared can make a HUGE difference.Yup, it's mundane but that's now my life in food

So I'm no expert on anything to do with health but this has been working for me. That said I have a few advantages most people don't. As a single person who lives alone I only have to prepare meals for me and not a wife or kids. I also have no one to make a schedule around so when I eat and when I exercise is all by choice, not circumstance. Mostly my biggest advantage is I'm never hungry! Haven't been for years. Maybe a result of the diabetes? Not sure but the fact is I can't recall the last time my stomach rumbled. So, how did I get so fat (beer consumption aside)? As I discussed with my sister I fall into the "live to eat" and she the "eat to live" category. I love food! I crave the tastes and textures and smells...but I'm never hungry. This is a big plus. There are pitfalls of course like the fact I hate cooked veggies but I'm trying. That 3 of my primal loves, potatoes, white bread and cheese (OK, 4 including beer), are on the "not good" list. And meal prep and planning, essential to living like this, can be a wicked drag. Some days are simply walk, eat, work, eat, gym, eat, prep food for next day, sleep. I've had lot's of great advice along the way from healthier food prep to "clean" foods to supplements for a heart healthy lifestyle and it's all been greatly appreciated

I've stated before my plan is this isn't a diet but a switch to a healthier lifestyle as diets to me have a beginning and end. That said I still want to be an active 46 y/o single guy and not fret about the occasional cheat meal, cheat day or beer blast. If I know it's coming I'll simply exercise more in anticipation. If I go over my calorie count one day, no biggie, right back at it the next day. Bottom line is I'm seeing results externally and internally. When I look in the mirror my face looks thinner, almost withdrawn versus how it's been for 25 years. My paunch is less paunchy. At the same time my once tree trunk legs are now looking lean and toned (well except the Popeye calves) which I'm not sure I like but hopefully being back to weight training will solve that issue. Most importantly the numbers that matter are improving. As of today, May 1 2013, my blood pressure is 125/75  with a resting bpm of 86 versus 140/89 with a resting bpm of 106. My fasting blood sugar has been mostly sub 110 and never higher then 130 for over a month now (versus 220-240 in February) and my weight is 208 versus 234. So yeah, I'm getting there but I have a long way to go. Healthy is more important then looking good so I wouldn't anticipate any shirtless "before and after" pictures ever! I have no idea where it will lead and lord knows I wouldn't be the first person to talk about all this stuff then fall on his face but I feel like I'm off to a good start

We'll wrap this up next time with how using my iPhone for more then Words With Friends has been the key to my early success

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