Fitness Quest: April 2018

Several positive items to report in my renewed quest for fitness since the discovery that I had a heart attack sometime in the past (likely, in my mind at least, in January of 2017).

Mental Health: first and foremost, my mood has improved considerably. Thanks to cardio rehab and the natural adaptation process that we all go through after experiencing major life events I’m happier than I’ve been in a while and am functioning again. At least in my opinion (my friends and co-workers may continue to disagree but that’s their problem). I am looking forward to the future for the most part again and not afraid that each day will be my last – even if it turns out to be.

Physical Health and Exercise: cardio rehab goes well and I’m making progress. I’m biking and walking like I should on days I don’t have rehab – even beating several other “steppers” in my weekly Fitbit step challenge – which I wasn’t doing for a long time. I get through my tap dancing each week without feeling like I’m going to pass out and I’m in general feeling more energetic.

More exciting is that my bodyfat percentage has been on a downward trend for about four weeks now even though my body weight has increased slightly. In bodybuilding this would be known as “making gains.” Not by huge amounts, after all I’m not a newbie or a teenager anymore, but a clear trend. It does mean that I’m not losing fat as is actual goal, but it means that I’m gaining more muscle than fat which isn’t bad either. Especially for someone who is in late middle-age (unless I live to be 130).

Last month I mentioned I was being tested for asthma and the good news is that my lungs are “normal” and have no obstructions. Something is still going on with my breathing though and my gastroenterologist has put me on iron thinking that my anemia could be contributing to the issue.

I do have sleep apnea, both obstructive and central, for which I’ll be getting a CPAP machine for this coming week (I hope). I have one more night of testing with various devices to see which will work best for me.

Crohn’s: speaking of gastroenterology, we’ve decided that my Humira may not be doing the best job for me. So we are switching things up and I’m going to Entyvio. The plus side of this is that I only get an infusion every 8 weeks (at home) instead of a weekly injection. I’ll be blogging more on this as treatments begin.

Nutrition: here’s the hard part. I’ve discovered something that I probably should have known all along. Sugar is bad for you. At least added sugar is. And like sodium, the stuff is everywhere. According to the American Heart Association men should restrict their added sugar levels to just 9 teaspoons a day (4 grams = 1 teaspoon) and women only 6 teaspoons. This means that if you have one 12 ounce can of pop a day, non-diet variety,  you’ve gone over your limit. Not to mention the mega servings most of us consume! I drink the diet stuff so that’s not a source of sugar for me, but my sweet tooth may literally be the death of me. Especially when you consider that sugar has inflammatory properties – which can aggravate my Crohn’s, which may have caused my heart attack in the first place!

Overall: I’m doing as well as can be expected and maybe a little better even. I thank God for each day I’m given and that I’m not worse off.

It’s an old saying but true: it could be worse. Oh well, it’s back to the grocery store I go!


Mediterranean Diet

Sodium, Sodium Everywhere and Not a Bite to Eat

Question: which do you think has less sodium, a medium order of McDonald’s French Fries or a small salad?

Answer: It depends. Are you going to put dressing on that salad? If so, the fries win. In fact, the fries win even if you go up to large size and small fries can win if you are looking at overall fats, too!

Surprised? Don’t be. Since discovering that I had a heart attack sometime in the past, I’ve been working harder than ever to get my diet in line. I was already doing pretty good in keeping my fats low and started cooking for myself and am getting a little more “Mediterranean” in my eating and food choices each week (more fish, more veggies, less sugar). So, I thought it was time to take the next step and reduce my sodium intake.


I now understand the trials and tribulations of people with high blood pressure. Sodium is in everything that is even slightly processed. Fast food, sit down restaurants, frozen food, soups, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables (but not always), baked goods, lunch meat, you name it and I bet it’s got more sodium than you would think.

Fat free means “added salt.” Pizzas should be called sodium pies. Surprisingly, things that taste salty, like potato chips, may have less sodium than a small can of spring peas.

According to the American Heart Association we should be eating no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, 1,500 if you have high blood pressure. But, the average American consumes more than 3,400 mg each day (more at the AHA website)! And I know from MyFitnessPal that I’m somewhere north of that figure on any given day. How much is 2,300 mg of sodium? About 1 teaspoon of salt per day.

Now in my case, I do not have high blood pressure and my heart attack does not appear to have been caused due to any dietary issues (arteries, with the exception of the one where the damage occurred are clear and “beautiful” according to my cardiologist). It’s likely, in fact, that the heart attack occurred due to my Crohn’s. And, I could choose to side with some of the research out there which suggests that if you don’t have high blood pressure sodium intake isn’t really an issue. However, with one big strike against me, I don’t think I should risk a second. So, I’m going to keep doing my best to get my diet in line and that means lowering my sodium intake.

Now should we talk about the amount of potassium in salt substitutes and the effect that has on someone taking ACE inhibitors?

The struggle continues.


Fitness Quest: Update February 23, 2015

Not much to report but I felt that I should post something since I have made a commitment to myself to post regularly. The past week has been pretty good health and fitness-wise. Even with a trip to Las Vegas (sorry, can’t talk about it because as we all know, what happens in Vegas…) I stayed fairly well focused on my goals and only over indulged one night and even made use of the hotel’s sparse but adequate gym. Adequate if all you need to do is cardio that is. And it was good to get away from the record breaking cold which has its grip on the upper midwest and northeast U.S. even if only for a couple days.

To start this week I felt good enough to move from the weight lifting machines over to the free weight room for most of my workout. I don’t really belong with the “big boys” anymore (if I ever did) but I like free weights better in general as I feel that more of the “stabilizing” muscles are brought into play. I even did good old fashioned squats for the first time in a long time and my knees held up well! Of course, I only had about 100 pounds on my shoulders – but it’s a start.

Medicine-wise things seem to be on hold. I have pretty much everything I need to start Humira – my sharps disposal kit, my talking training “pen,” and my nurse lined up to come give me my lessons on how to inject myself. Now all I need is the Humira. I’m going to have to call the pharmacy to see what’s taking so long – no doubt some sort of insurance issue. We’ll see. Good thing I’m still feeling well for the most part with only a little “grumbling” from my stomach here and there.

Now if I could just get warm…

Onward and upward!

Fitness Quest: January 25, 2015 Update

It’s been awhile since I last posted, mostly because January is one of my busy times at work and between work, working out, and other activities for the past couple of weeks I just haven’t felt like blogging! Things are slowing down now and I can once again start to gather my thoughts and update on my progress or lack thereof.

The good news is that I’m making good use of my UP 24 (by Jawbone) band and changing several habits – mostly taking the long way around when walking and trying to add more steps instead of saving them. I need to be purposeful in keeping up with walking and moving on weekends, but during the week I’ve had very little trouble getting in at least 10,000 steps per day. I’m also back to the gym. The first couple workouts left me a bit sore, as expected, and I actually welcomed the tightness which followed – as well as the pump during the workouts. As I’m sure some of you are aware, it’s good to occasionally flex and feel like something is being flexed!

I’m doing very well with my diet, too. I use MyFitnessPal and have logged everything I’ve put in my mouth each day for about a month now. It has become habit and has helped me to make better choices. I have to say that I miss my Little Debbie though…and Krispy Kreme…and…well, you get the drift. However, there are better ways to use all those calories than one or two (or three) fatty treats each day. Oh, and this morning I was told by my Pastor that I looked thinner! I’ll choose to believe that he was talking about my waist and not my chest and shoulders.

Downside, I seem to have reached a fat loss plateau of some sort. My weight is edging down much slower than my exercise level and calorie intake should be creating. I’d like to think it’s because I’m putting muscle on as fast as the fat comes off, but that would be wrong (probably). Nothing to do but to stay consistent and keep upping the cardio.

Emotionally, I’m doing good except for the sadness and depression which followed the death of my cousin John this past week. He was three days older than me and born with Down Syndrome. Despite this he led a good life. He had a strong sense of humor and loved his family deeply. We had much in common including that we both enjoyed Star Trek and Scooby Doo. I will miss him greatly.

Upcoming for me this week a “double balloon colonoscopy” to further investigate my Crohn’s. This treatment will involve a two day prep and I’m on a clear liquid diet starting Tuesday and a full day of bowel “cleansing” on Wednesday. I’ll post more on this afterwards on Thursday (after I wake up that is).


The Day After…Thanksgiving

Warning – I deal frankly with some bodily functions in this blog (not graphic but more sensitive types might want to take care)

Okay, so as I mentioned last blog I got through Thanksgiving pretty well. And I was happy as this was the first Thanksgiving ins a while were I didn’t feel sick during or after wards. Understanding now that I have a permanent “narrowing” of my intestine due to scarring from the Crohn’s has given me a different attitude about eating. Keep the portions smaller, eat more frequently (if I’m really hungry) and no more giant meals…which is an issue since I still haven’t been to Tony’s in Birch Run for one of their famous BLT sandwiches (either Google it or follow this link to the Foursquare entry –  I guess a doggy bag is always allowed…

Side note: I was never a big portion guy anyway, I remember at the now long gone Trail Duster restaurant while visiting my sister and her husband in Denver, CO that I could barely get through the “cowgirl” steak while my brother-in-law polished off what appeared to be an entire side of beef. I was in awe, and a little in shock – not quite like the old 96 ouncer in the classic movie “The Great Outdoors” with John Candy and Dan Akroyd but close. I tried to look up the menu but it appears that it is no longer served at even the original Trail Duster which is still open in Arlington, TX. They do still cut off your tie after 5:00 PM though!

Anyway, so things were going pretty good yesterday as well. Some mild pain and discomfort but nothing unusual. I ate lightly during the day after a bad start at breakfast. Handy kitchen tip – don’t get a sudden diarrhea attack when the waffles are in the maker and the bacon is on the stove. Or at least turn the bacon off (can you say “extra crispy?”). A delicious turkey sandwich for lunch (by the way, what makes leftover Thanksgiving turkey the best turkey for sandwiches anyway?) and a little leftover Ruby Tuesday’s ravioli for dinner. Then while watching television later in the evening I started coughing.

Now coughing isn’t rare during this time of year and I’ve had a nagging sinus drip for about a week now (no fever, just drip, cough, etc.) and tonight something from my sinuses was trying to go down my throat but not quite making it. As a result my coughing got violent as did my gagging. Well, after so many years of vomiting on a regular basis I think that my guts are just ready to “go” on a moment’s notice and sure enough – upchuck city without even feeling ill! I did have the good sense to move to the bathroom before the moment occurred at least. To me the worst part was that my sinuses still didn’t clear!

The good news, if any, is that the food from earlier in the day did seem to be digesting well as very little solid matter came back up and I would say my gastric juices were working well. No real burning sensation as I had just drank some water a little earlier. All in all, not a bad vomit if I were to rate them – and sadly, I do now.

The point of this post? Not much, just that with Crohn’s you always have to be ready for the unexpected. This is why I sometimes find it tough to go to the movies. I like to sit in the center but also like to have a clear aisle. If I’m feeling a little off I’ll just go ahead and sit on the side so if I need to get out I don’t have to disturb anyone else. I try to take a little plastic bag with me a lot, too – and have even quietly thrown up during a broadway show (at least I hope it was quiet, no one glared or looked at me from what I could tell and they all came back after intermission. Of course it was a good show). And, just like the commercials, I’m always very aware of where the nearest restroom and/or trash receptacle is. Life with Crohn’s, even a mild case like mine, is always an adventure.

Of course, it does make it easier to pretend that I squatted until I puked in the gym!



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