Fitness Quest: 2019 A Year in Review

It may be a couple days late, but at the start of another year I think it’s worth taking a quick look back at where I’ve come fitness wise at least. One of the benefits of keeping records is being able to see progress which in real time seems to never come.

I started 2019 as an ostomate. I’ve discussed this in other blogs (like this one here). Suffice it to say that there are challenges when you don’t have use of your colon. Among them was getting the proper nutrients and maintaining weight. In some ways this was good as I did lose a good deal of fat through the experience but also lost muscle as well.

Giving the “thumbs up” after surgery!

I am fortunate that my ileostomy could be reversed and was in April 2019. The results were immediate, observable and positive. Muscle gains, despite being a middle-aged man, were rapid as my body started bouncing back to it’s old self. To the point that my trainer was impressed and even asked if I had always put on muscle so quickly (I wish). By the end of the year I had gained about 30 pounds and according to skin fold measurements almost all of it was lean mass.

Briefly, I started the year weighing 196 pounds/89 kg with a bodyfat % of 24%. I ended weighing 226 pounds/102.5 kg with a bodyfat of 23.5. Even given the usual error rate a significant gain in solid mass (skinfold totals dropped from 151 to 137). My chest grew from 39.5 inches/100.3 cm inches to almost 45 inches/114.3 cm. My unflexed arms are the same size (about 13.5 inches/34.3 cm) but flexed I stretch the tape to nearly 16 inches/40.6 cm, a gain of about 1.5 inches/3.8 cm.

Me putting on a good face during the annual Rose Run in Petersburg, MI

Cardiovascularly, even though I didn’t beat my best time in my annual 5K run I did better than I have in most years. My blood pressure has crept up this year so I need to refocus on my diet – especially my sugar habit – and get more regular with my cardio. Though I do a couple cardio and core sessions each week I’m not getting my steps in now that winter is here. I’m making better use of my exercise bike since last week and will have to keep it up.

Foods we should all eat more often!

My diet has changed. I’m cooking more food myself at home and packing lunch almost everyday. I wouldn’t say I’m on a true mediterranean diet by any means, but I eat more olive oil, hummus, and vegetables in general than I ever thought I would. Plus, even though I visit the drive-thru much too often (2-3 times per week) this is about half as often as I used to do.

I do take a lot more selfies these days, too!

For 2020 I’ve got the usual goals – increased cardiovascular health, less fat and more muscle. If the past year is an indication I like my odds.


Fitness Quest: ‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…Bowl Full of Jelly Jolly…

Well, with Thanksgiving yesterday the holidays have officially started – IMHO, despite what the radio stations playing Christmas music and retailers would have you believe, Halloween isn’t the first holiday of the “Holiday Season.”  And with the holidays the annual challenge of not overeating has begun. Though in one sense, the holidays are no different than any other time of year, because let’s face it, gooey, delicious sweets are available year round. But during the holidays I think that there’s a little (a lot?) more social pressure to snack on sweets. After all who can turn down a Christmas cookie? A slice of pie? Fruitcake (okay, I have no trouble turning down fruitcake). Even yesterday during Thanksgiving after eating sensible portions for dinner I found myself snacking on a few extra pieces of the delicious home made fudge one of my cousins makes…yeah, a few…like 10 or 20.

I’ve read before that the average person gains somewhere between 3-5 pounds during the holidays and frankly, I’m surprised it’s not more!

Oddly enough, I don’t usually have too much trouble with additional weight gain during the holidays. I came to the conclusion quite a while ago that there is no reason to overeat during the holidays and in my case especially so. Thanks to my Crohn’s if I stuff myself as I used to do in my youth, pigging out on the Thanksgiving meal as if I had not eaten in weeks, taking the meal as a challenge to see how much I could it, instead of focusing on the meaning of the meal as a way to acknowledge and give thanks for everything I have as it should be, I would suffer later.

Remember, because of my Crohn’s a portion of my intestine has literally narrowed (shrunk) so that only so much food is going to go through. I think this is the case with everyone, but in my case the amount is much less. If things “back up” on my I might have enjoyed the meal, but I won’t enjoy it later that evening when it makes a return visit to my mouth (if you get my drift).

So I’m going to take things one step further. I’m planning to drop weight between now and the New Year. My goal is to be down at least 10 pounds.

Not just for myself in general, but I’ve got this fitness contest that I’m involved in with my brother-in-law and another friend. In order to win, I need to lose weight and put on some muscle (actually, I suspect I need to put on a fair amount of muscle to beat these guys who historically seem to have gained muscle more easily than I have – of course we are all older now). But, as my bro-in-law pointed out last night, I may have a little bit of an unfair advantage over them. I have a colonoscopy coming up in two weeks. Part of that prep will involve essentially a clear liquid diet for 4-5 days prior (what fun that’s going to be). I may drop five pounds just because of this.

The trick, as always, will be to keep it off. 

What do you think? Do you have strategies to get through the Holidays without getting a belly like a bowful of jelly? I’d love to hear about them.