Fitness Quest: The Road Less Traveled

It should not come as a shock to anyone who’s ever known or paid attention to me (or has read this blog) that I’ve had a long time interest in health, fitness, bodybuilding, etc. This interest goes back quite a ways to my first flirtations with the gym and working out in high school, through a more serious attempt during college, up to the current day. Yet, during all this time, even when I was at my strongest and curling more than 100 pounds and benching almost 1.5 times my body weight (when I weighed close to 240) I don’t think there was ever a time you would have called me muscular. Sure, I had big arms and a big chest but I also had (have?) a big butt and big gut to go along with them. In my quest for size and strength I only gave lip service to fat loss. So even though I could bench more than 300 pounds (which is why I’m glad I write down my workouts – it’s hard to believe that I was once capable of this) I couldn’t run around the block without the risk of heart attack. Though my arms taped at just over 17.5 inches in circumference when flexed (4.5 inches more than the “average” man’s) my biceps lacked peak – though my tris were pretty well defined – in short, I was big but not built. I wanted to look like a bodybuilder but I looked more like a Bluto (from the Popeye comic strip).

Over the years I’ve tried a variety of workouts with varying consistency. I always blamed my lack of consistency, genetics and even my Crohn’s for my lack of progress. Well, people with Crohn’s much worse than mine have made better progress (see my earlier blogs on Peter K. Vaughn and Peter Nielsen for examples) and I know men who have made dramatic changes in their physiques in the course of a few months.

Well, today in the grocery store I finally had a revelation. My problem has been in front of my for all these years. Why do I not look the way I want? Because I eat the way I want!

I’ve been told this over the decades by at least two personal trainers (maybe three), a nutritionist, friends, family and God only knows how many books on exercise, weightlifting, diet, and nutrition.

So, what am I going to do about this? Well, I’ve already started.

Now that I have my caloric intake under control I need to improve the quality of what goes into my mouth. I loaded up on fresh (or as fresh as we get now days) veggies and fruits. I avoided the sugary treats, and I have enough to last the week. I chose Greek yogurt over regular because it has fewer calories and more protein (need some dairy after all). Tomorrow I plan my meals out so that I’m not caught in a situation where I “have” to go through the drive-thru and I’m taking another look at my supplement plan. Currently, I’m not taking anything except iron and calcium that my doctor prescribed. I’m thinking of adding back in a multi-vitamin and fish oil. Possibly some glucosamine as well for joint health.

I currently feel  better than I have in years so I’m determined not to squander this feeling. I may never lift 350 pounds again (or maybe I will, who knows) but I bet I still have time to see my abs. At least two of them…


Crohn’s: Pills, Pills, Pills – Which Ones To Take?

Well, my health journey continues with mixed results. I had my appointment with my gastro doctor to talk about my latest tests, discuss treatment, and to take some more blood for additional testing. We agreed that the best way to avoid future surgery was to start some new drugs one of which is Humira, which seems to be the latest “wonder” drug, and the other being Imuran (aka Azathioprine). I can’t start the Humira until my test for Tuberculosis comes back but he thought I could start the Imuran right away.

For those who don’t know, Imuran is an immunosuppressive medicine used to treat a variety of immune diseases to reduce the activity of the specific disease which in my case is Crohn’s. There are side effects, of course, but the biggest concern is that by it’s very nature it reduces the white blood cells in your system. Well, I leave the doctor’s, go to the pharmacy and pick up my prescription and take my first pill. Then it was off for an afternoon of filming “Necroland” (I’ll eventually be listed as a cast member on ImDB!).

As I was heading home from filming the doctor calls (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving) and he tells me that I should stop taking the Imuran. He had some of the lab tests back already and apparently that on top of my vitamin D and calcium deficiency my white blood count is already very low – as if I was already taking the drug. He’s not sure what to make of this and it may be a testing error but for the time being, and to keep me from getting sick with something else, we need to be safe and keep me off the drug. We may also have to hold off on the Humira but won’t know more until the rest of the tests come back in.

The good news is that I’m feeling pretty healthy for the time being (occasional queasiness and bowel issues but nothing major since last December) and I don’t have any other symptoms for some of the horrible diseases which a low white cell count might indicate (Google, a friend and a foe at the same time). So, we’ll keep on taking test and see what develops.

Oh, and I’m anemic – due to the Crohn’s – and really need to take my iron every day which I hate. If anyone has found a brand that doesn’t upset their gastric inner workings please let me know!

On the fitness front, things could be going better but I’m staying within my calorie goals and this morning my weight is back down (last week I was up four pounds). Strength could be better but I was able to increase weights in several lifts and am feeling confident enough to move back into the free weight room with the “big boys.”

This is the last week of my fitness challenge with a couple of friends. I’m not sure how they are doing but I have high hopes that I’ll win based on my weight loss alone. I haven’t seen much improvement in my various measurements though my pants are clearly looser my sleeves aren’t getting tighter. I’ll of course let you all know how that turns out.

Onward and forward!