Winning Again!

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Weight 224

The last couple of weeks, I’ve written about problems and obstacles we face, in weight loss, and in life. Things were getting very discouraging, but I stuck with it. I faced my obstacles, and I shared it all with you all, both as a confession, and as a lesson. We all face these challenges.

I got on the scales today, and saw a drop. I haven’t lost weight in three weeks. In fact, I had gone up a bit. But today, I’m back where I need to be. And I’m psyched.

You all deserve a lot of the credit. You kept reading, liking the posts, and some started following the blog because of the articles. You gave me so much support and confidence. Thank you so much.

The changes I made in tracking, and adjusting my calorie intake, really helped. As I have said before, calories count. It’s basic science.

Over the last three weeks, I have found some fat based snacks to help me quell my hunger. I don’t have to eat many of them. And I’ve begun regular exercise. My workout is pitiful right now, because it’s been so many years since I’ve done this, but I’m doing it. And I’ve started to see some improvement in my performance.

I’m doing only body weight exercises. And I’m doing those for a few reasons. 1. Gyms are all closed here. 2. Gyms cost money. 3. Weight sets cost money. 4. I don’t want to spend money. 5. Pumping iron will do more to make me gain weight as muscle, I think, than body weight exercises. I’m trying to tone my body, rather than bulk it up.

Three weeks is not a long time to be stuck on a plateau. I know some of you have been there much longer. Just stay with what you know has worked. Don’t give in. Tweak what you do. Tweak your calories. Adjust your fat vs protein calories. Walk, Run, exercise. Do something to surprise your metabolism. You will get through this.

I know I may have reached the stage where I won’t lose weight every single week. I’m ok with that. I have a goal. But I’m not on a time limit. We’ve got this!

Plateaus Happen!

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I mentioned last week that I’m on a plateau. I’m not gaining weight, but I’m also not losing any. It’s been about three weeks. It’s starting to get frustrating. If you’ve been there, you totally understand. I have a couple of choices; either I can give up and give in, or I can stay focused and do something about it. As you can guess, I’m not giving in.

I’ve also mentioned, I am in a position where I have to eat dinner in people’s homes twice a week. They don’t fix Keto meals, and that hurts my program a lot. Some weeks, the meals are loaded with Carbohydrates. And usually, there is ice cream for dessert. I’m not grumbling, merely stating the obvious.

It’s probably the desserts that are the biggest problem. A few potatoes in the meal, or some pasta, won’t kill me. But the sugar in ice cream, is a major problem.

First, I am not going to hurt peoples feelings by not accepting their invitations to dinner. That is not an option. So don’t even suggest it.

Here’s my plan. First, the following day, I will have zero carbs. That’s not even hard. It’s just a carnivore day. I can do that without even thinking about it. If I have to, I will do it for two days. Time will tell, and I’ll keep you posted.

Second, as I’ve mentioned a couple times, I believe calories are important. I will watch my calories very closely. A maximum of 1800, should work. It’s really important to track what I eat. To be honest, I’ve been lax the last two weeks. I’m confessing that to you, and will change it. You may hold me accountable. Go ahead and ask me anytime.

Thirdly, I’ve started exercising. I was going to write, regularly, but since I’ve only done it ONCE, regularly is an overstatement. During this lockdown, I don’t have access to a gym, and frankly, I won’t spend the money, even when it’s available to me. I looked up a collection of body weight exercises, and for a man of my age, that will do nicely.

It’s not like I’m new to exercise. Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, I started working out…and running. For 7 years, I went to the gym, and rand at least 5 days a week. I worked out with professional body builders and professional wrestlers. I had excellent coaching. I learned a lot of techniques. I ran 5 k road races. I was fit, even buff. And I was lean.

That was a long time ago, but I still know what and how. It’s the motivation, and loss of muscle and fitness that’s my obstacle. My body doesn’t want to do it.

Yesterday, I was only able to complete 3 pushups. You heard me correctly. THREE! I then finished a set of 10, by doing what we used to call ‘girl’ pushups. You know, with my knees on the ground. From now on I will call them ‘beginner’ pushups.

I did one set of a variety of exercises. Today, my upper body hurts. Especially my chest and my lats. That’s where I seem to be the weakest. So odd for a guy who used to be a farmer, but since my heart surgery, my upper body muscles have been pretty inactive.

The other thing I had to do, was stretch. A Lot! When I was younger, I could just start working out, or running. Now, I can’t run, seriously, I can’t run. I have had a bad case of sciatica for 4 years. The stretches are like a work out by themselves. As a result, this morning I am sore. I will only do my stretches today. But this afternoon, I will go walk some dogs. I will beat this plateau. And my goal, is within a month, to be able to jog at least a quarter of a mile when I’m out with the dogs. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it’s terrifying. I am aiming to be able to jog a mile by August. Stay tuned.

For the record, I’m not trying to be a mid life body builder. I’m just trying to help my metabolism, and to tone my body. I’ll let you know how it all turns out. But what about you? Have you ever hit plateaus? Did they discourage you to the point of giving up? What did you do to beat them? I’m curious. Feel free to write and let me know.

Ok, now it’s time to publish this, and do my stretches…

Loose Skin – A Very Real Side Effect of Weight Loss

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This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been afraid to write it, but the time has arrived when it needs to be done. Not for my benefit, but for yours.

In 1990, I weighed 250 lbs. On my 5′ 9.5” frame, that was a lot of extra weight. Shortly before I turned 34 years old in October of that year, I started losing weight. It was slow at first. By the spring of 91, I was serious. I took up running and working out in the gym. I was fairly young, I was getting healthy, and I looked on fitness as my job.

My routine was pretty simple. I went to the gym every morning at 9. Three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and usually Saturday, I would sauna for an hour or so. Then I would shower, come home, have lunch, and work a bit. In the afternoons, especially on days I did not go to the sauna, I would run 2 to 5 miles. I hated running. But I got good at it, and it became a regular part of my routine. I ate very little during the day, I was not on Keto in those days. I’d never heard of low carb. Only low fat. I ate a light breakfast of toast and oatmeal, a light lunch, and then at night I’d have a big dinner.

I did this for 7 years. I lost down to about 168 lbs. I went from a 40 inch waist to a 33. I am, and have been thick waisted my whole life. I inherited my build from both of my grandfathers. People who knew me as fat, were shocked at how I’d lost and kept off my weight. People who didn’t know me as heavy were stunned to hear about my earlier weight issues. They only knew me a buff and thin.

I had no loose skin. Absolutely none. I had met a guy in college who lost a lot of weight, and he had rolls of it. It was almost frightening to look at. I had worked hard, and was young enough that I did not suffer that fate one iota. But that was then.

I was 41, when my wife and I got married. I stopped running, working out, and eating healthy. So did she. We ate everything we could get our hands on. I won’t describe some of our eating marathons, but I might come back to it in the future.

I peaked out at 305 lbs. Holy mackerel! I was a mess. To be fair, I lost down to 275, and stayed between there and 285 until earlier this year.

2.5 years ago, I had open heart surgery. I’d had a heart attack and several small strokes. The last stroke was on the operating table. It left me partially blind in my left eye. The surgeon said that I was fortunate. I could have easily died from a stroke while undergoing heart surgery. In that case, I’ll settle for a little vision challenge.

It’s ironic that it’s taken me this long to get serious about losing weight. But at long last, I got there. My wife has been practicing the Keto diet for several years. It got a whole lot easier for her once I got with the program. We are both losing weight at a fairly steady rate.

I have not been able to get back into a consistent exercise routine. Part of that is pure laziness. And part is because I’m 64 years old, and my body doesn’t work the way it used to. I used to run sled dogs. I did it for over 30 years. I ran limited class sprint races. That means 4 to 6 dogs over 4 to 6 miles for multiple days in a race, trying to get the fastest time. It’s a lot different that the Iditarod. For most of that time, I was seriously overweight. Running up and down big hills and running between the runners to make things easier for the dogs, did a number on my knees. They are scarred up badly.

For a number of years after retiring from racing dogs, I was a farmer. I worked hard. Trying to compensate for my deteriorating knees I damaged my back and hips. These days I have serious sciatic problems. My entire right side, from below my chest is affected. I am in constant pain. No one’s fault but mine. These are the results of allowing myself to remain obese and trying to live like I wasn’t.

Currently, I weigh 247 lbs. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve made great progress. I tried a body weight workout last week. It was a disaster. I will try one tomorrow. I’m not going to join the gym. Like I said, I’m 64. I don’t want to spend the money. I will stick to body weight exercises for a while and see what happens.

The thing I’ve really noticed, is, the loose skin. Frankly, it’s getting bad. And it’s pretty ugly. It’s all in my mid section. My legs and arms never got grossly fat. Oddly, neither did my chest and upper back. All my weight was in the middle. Just like a barrel, or an apple. So as I lose weight, my belly skin sags. I guess to be fair, I’ve got a good bit of loose skin on my neck, but comparatively, it’s not that bad. I’m trying to stay PG in this space, so let’s just say, there is a part of my anatomy that is pretty much covered up by hanging slabs of skin.

When I go to the bathroom, I have to drop my trousers. I can’t just unzip. I’m so sorry to paint this picture, but this is real life. I have to hold up my skin so that I have the freedom to go number 1. In public restrooms, I have to use a stall so that I don’t frighten and gross out other people. The point is, my loose skin has become an issue.

Another side effect is that my trousers don’t fit right. I have a huge bulge just below the belt line. My trouser sizes are not going down as fast as I’d like, because the loose skin is replacing the fat, and it looks odd.

My wife is having loose skin issues as well. She’s a lot younger than I am. She’s broken her back twice, and the loose skin is causing her pain. She will have surgery once she finishes losing weight, and Covid allows travel. I will not have the surgery. Like I said, I’m 64. In my mind, that’s an expense that doesn’t have enough ROI in my case. I’m too old to spend that kind of money for cosmetic surgery that won’t have a huge health benefit for me. I will live with the loose skin. My situation is so much different than my wife’s. She’s in her mid 40s. She’s not too old. And the loose skin causes her pain. She needs the surgery. Unfortunately, insurance won’t cover it, so we’re saving up for it now. We don’t put things on credit cards, but that’s another topic for another day. Check out my book IOU NO MORE. Its old now, and it’s only available on Kindle these days, but it’s still available.

I am telling you about our loose skin, because it’s real life. If you are on Keto, with only 25 or 30 lbs to lose, this might not be something you’ll face. If, though, you’ve got 100 lbs or more to lose, or, like me you’re getting a bit older, you will face it. It’s one of the prices we have to pay for decades of being morbidly obese. And the more we know, the better prepared we are for side effects.

In my case, I won’t ever be even a 36 inch waist. If I get to 38 I’ll be lucky. It will also affect my weight goal. I know I will have 7 to 10 pounds of extra skin affecting the scale every time I get on it. That’s reality. It’s a price I have to pay. We weighed up the benefits vs cost of having skin removal surgery and for my wife it makes sense to pursue it. For me, it will be like giving away money. I won’t do it.

You need to be aware of the reality of loose skin. Some people have it in big pockets on their upper arms, their waists, and even on their legs. It can be gruesome. I’ve seen the photos on Instagram. You need to think about it now, so that you can decide whether or not you will pay for the surgery. The odds are greatly against insurance covering loose skin surgery. Don’t let either the existence of waves loose skin, or the cost of getting rid of it, catch you by surprise. Be ready. Be wise. And good luck. This journey is worth the hassle.

Oops! My First Keto Mistake

pink saltI made a mistake with my keto program, and it really messed with me for several hours today. Stay tuned and I’ll explain it here in a moment.

First, We’ve (my wife and I) been keto for two weeks. My bride has not lost much weight. It’s a girl thing. Ladies have more problems than men dieting in general, but it’s especially true with keto. Some women don’t lose, or they even gain weight, during the first 6 weeks of the program. Yikes.

As I understand it, when we switch to a keto diet, we’re asking our bodies to do something dramatic. We’re asking it to change the fuel it uses to burn energy (calories). On a typical diet, we use carbs to provide that fuel. When we switch to keto, we tell our bodies to switch to burning fat as our primary source. That doesn’t happen overnight. Think about switching your car from petrol (gasoline) to diesel. Probably you’re going to have to change cars, you can’t just switch.

That’s one of the ways the human body is different. God made us so we can run on either fuel base. I think that’s incredible. But it takes time to become fat adapted. Some people switch easier. Some people take longer to adapt. We can do it, we just need to be patient.

In my case, I lost 5 pounds the first week. That was awesome and I’ll take it. But I’m 62 now rather than 32, and my metabolism is not what it used to be. Of course the 5 pounds was water weight, not fat loss.

The second week, I lost another 3 pounds. I was disappointed at first. When I was 30, I could lose 20 pounds the first two weeks of a diet. Then I remembered, I’m not 30 any more. I’m more than twice that. Sigh. Anyway, I’ll take the 8 pounds and be happy.

Ok, let’s get back to my mistake. Yesterday, I decided to go to the gym. I was feeling more energetic than I have in two years. I went a couple times in January, but the experience was awful. I used to be a guy who worked out 5 or 6 days a week. I trained with WWE wrestlers and professional body builders. I know my way around a gym, even though I look like I only know my way around a Golden Corral buffet.

I walked to the gym rather than take the car. It’s only about half a mile, so the walk would be a good stretch before the workout. When I got to the gym, it was really crowded. Mostly with children and teenagers. Children in the pool, teens in the gym area.

I managed to get a few minutes on a treadmill, and a fairly decent upper body workout with some of the machines. I couldn’t get near any free weights.

I decided, while doing my workout, to go to the sauna and steam rooms. Those are my favorite parts of the gym. I have loved saunas since the late 80s. I can sit and think. I can pray and meditate. It’s a real selfish, me time. Especially when the sauna is empty, like it was last night.

I did a full 20 minutes in the sauna, which is all my doctor recommends right now. After that I hit the steam room. I only managed three minutes in there. All the steam gets to me pretty quickly, so I didn’t push it.

After I got home, I had a cup of tea, talked for a while with my wife, then went to bed. That was my mistake. I didn’t re-hydrate. I had lost a lot of electrolytes sweating away in the gym and sauna and I didn’t replace them. So when I got up this morning, I was severely tired. I had my coffee, but it didn’t do it’s usual job. Honestly, it was 9:30 before I figured out what was wrong. I had a cup of tea and took some iced tea upstairs to the office. By 10:30 I thought I was going to pass out. I was really weak.

I went to the kitchen and ate a handful of Pink Himalayan salt. Then I had another. I was instantly revived, just like if I’d had a chocolate bar. The electrolyte boost was almost instantaneous. At lunch I put extra salt on my meal. And had some more before going back to work. I’ve been drinking iced tea all afternoon. As a result, I’m starting to feel better. Not as good as recent days, but certainly I’m getting hydrated and getting the electrolytes back in balance.

I’ve never been one to take electrolyte concoctions to the gym, or to have a pre workout shake, or a post workout one. A glass of water, yes. Any thing else seemed weak. I’m going to have to rethink my options. I’m not the man I used to be. It’s now obvious to me that after a workout, especially if I go to the sauna, I will require electrolytes when I get home.

Take my advice. If you’re trying a keto lifestyle, be patient. It takes a while to become fat adapted. You’re asking your body to adjust to a new fuel. And, don’t neglect your electrolytes. If you’re losing water weight anyway, you’re flushing them down the toilet. So if you go to the gym and sauna and sweat a lot, your body will need the replacements.

Finally, if you’re over 40, or if like me, you’re over 60. Take it slow. Don’t have the expectations of a 30 year old. We can do this. It just takes time.