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Greg P

Getting Healthy

177 posts in this topic

Did it! Ran 5K outdoors today. That felt good.

Woo-hoo!

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This is a great thread. Very inspiring. I like the way you all have kept up the positive encouragement for one another. Now you can add me in.

A little background. I am not in great shape, yet I'm not unsalvageable. I just turned 47. Like Greg, I'm 6'4", and as of yesterday weighed in at 261, which at this point is a good thing as I'll explain later. I've always felt most comfortable in the 205 to 215 zone. I have been as low as 185, but that actually felt too low for my build. About 5 years ago I was 235, in mediocre bordering on good shape (not really watching my diet), when I began working as an installer for an extremely high end swing set company. This job was a daily workout in and of itself, a lot of heavy lifting that covered a lot of different terrains, in an outdoor setting. I was basically getting a full cardio and weight program by loading our product at work, unloading it at client locations, and then assembling for 4 to 6 hours depending on the unit being installed. This involved a lot of squatting, climbing and twisting my body into unnatural positions. After working there for 18 months, I had dropped to 215 (diet remained the same), and had built up quite a bit of muscle. Still had a spare tire around the waist, but never could make the time to work that off. Come late summer of 2007, tragedy struck... the housing market began to collapse and our business quickly dried up. For some reason, folks just didn't seem to want to spend $5k to $10k on swing sets anymore (told you they were high end).

Upon leaving that company, I started driving cross-country long haul. This was the beginning of my body's decline. I only worked this primarily sedentary job for six months, but in that time put back on all the weight I had dropped, plus and extra 15 pounds. I left this job to work for a prop house, where the work was light in nature, and my weight still increased (to about 265). This job ended in mid 2009, and I was unemployed for the next 11 months. Those 11 months packed on more pounds (this is when I really should have taken advantage of the down time - hindsight being 20/20). Finally, I got the job that I am currently in, working for a lighting company that provides lights for a lot of concerts, conventions and TV shows (Wipeout). When I started in June 2010, I weighed 283 (the most I had ever weighed). Again I was working with a lot of heavy equipment (dimmers, cables, and moving lights) and have seen the results of moving this equipment around in the form of better muscle tone. However, in June 2011, a year after I started work here, I hadn't shed a pound. In fact, I had gone up to 289 (surprisingly, my blood pressure was still good, and cholesterol wasn't as bad as I feared). I had promised myself in September 2010 on my 46 birthday that I was going to do something about getting in shape, and now the better part of another year had slipped away and I hadn't done a thing. Then, tragedy struck... at the end of June my car's transmission gave out.

Perhaps not so tragic... I had already been taking the train to work for six months in an effort to save some money on transportation, but I was still driving the two miles from my home to the Metrolink station both in the morning and coming home at night. Now, I've been forced to walk that 4 miles. By the end of July, I was back down to 283, not much but hopeful. The walk home is especially gruelling , as the last 3/4 of a mile is up a San Francisco style hill. It took nearly two weeks before I could take that hill without stopping.

Then something happened at work. We have four locations - New York, L.A., Las Vegas and Washington D.C. Our CEO made his summer trek to each of the locations in mid July, and I think he must have noticed that he has a lot of fat guys working in his shops! At the beginning of August the company began to sponsor a Biggest Loser event. The goal for those participating is to try and lose 9% of your body weight over 90 days, with a goal of maintaining that weight or losing more over the next year.. This event is marked by 5 weigh-ins. The initial weigh-in in August, followed by 30, 60, and 90 day weigh-ins. The 3 top losers of the most weight (done by % of weight lost, not pounds) at each weigh-in receive prizes (incentives aren't bad), and anyone who loses 3 pounds will be given free movie passes (where I could easily eat 3 pounds of popcorn). To qualify for the top 3 spots, you have to have lost a minimum of 3% of your initial weigh-in weight. The top three prizes for the first 2 months are... 3rd place: $25 gift certificate to Whole Foods - 2nd place: A session with a personal trainer - 1st place: Paid day off and a session with a personal trainer. At 90 days the prizes increase: 3rd place: $100 AmEx Card - 2nd place: 6 month gym membership - 1st place: 2 paid days off and a 1 year gym membership. We'll have a final weigh-in in August 2012, where the person who has maintained or bettered their last weigh-in will receive another 6 month gym membership.

On top of losing the weight in July and the approach of my 47th birthday, this was the incentive I needed to get off my ass and try adding some new diet and exercise programs into my lifestyle (there's a lot to be said about a little friendly competition at work). I had done Atkins in the past, and it had worked well for me (until I fell back into old habits). I got back into that program, although I modified the induction phase. Those of you who have done Atkins might know what I mean when I say that I didn't want to suffer the Atkin's flu, or sugar DT's (however you want to refer to it). When you cut back the carbs to 20 grams a day, and completely cut off sugar, you feel it after about 3 days, and it can be nasty. Headaches, bodyaches, low energy. Instead of diving right into the Atkin's induction phase, I took a week where I immediatley cut out all crap sugar foods (ice cream, candy bars, etc) and ate fruit instead - kind of a pre-induction induction phase. As the week progressed, I cut back the fruit intake and upped the vegetable intake as the main provider of my carbs. Believe me, you have to eat a lot of veggies to hit that 20 carb max during induction. And guess what? It worked! No Atkin's flu this time. I felt great. Was eating a lot of lean meats and veggies, drinking a lot of green tea, water, and seltzer water (my 0 calorie, non aspartame carbonation fix). I started jogging down the hill in the morning to catch my train. Come time for the first weigh-in the Wednesday after Labor Day, I had dropped from 283 to 266 - 6.01% of my body weight - first place at my location, and good enough for 2nd place company wide.

As a birthday present to myself, I cleared out a big space in the garage, bought a cheap DVD player and TV from Goodwill, and purchased off of Craigslist an unused P90X workout routine. I've been watching the commercials for years, and thinking that that would be the type of workout I would enjoy. Enough variety, and not a lot of need for a bunch of fancy equipment. I made and installed my own pullup station, and bought a set of resistance bands, which I braided together to get the maximum resistance (I'm using these until I can actually perform a pullup). I unpacked the free weights, barely passed the minimum requirements test that the program provides, and took 6 embarrassing "before" photos to keep record of my progress. I started last Monday, and let me tell you... it's kicking my butt... but in a good way. There are a lot of routines where I feel extremely clumsy (yoga and kenpo) but with time I'll get the balance issues worked out. I dropped another five pounds last week, and am now at 261. After September's weigh-in, I decided to see how many carbs I could work back into my diet and maintain at 266, which explains the lack of weight loss in the 2 weeks prior to staring the P90X routines. I have no illusions. I don't expect a hard body by the end of this 90 day program... in my case this will probably turn into P180X or P270X.

So, that's where I'm at. I took a look at the Couch to 5k site, and am thinking about working that into my routine. The first 2 week cycle would work perfectly on my current morning walk to the train. I could alter my route a bit as the weeks progress and distance increases.

I have some questions for the rest of you:

Has anyone else here done the P90X program? If so, were you pleased with the results?

What's the feeling around here on supplements? Multivitamins? Recovery drinks? Protein shakes?

I take a traditional multivitamin, plus an extra B12 vitamin, and a couple of 500mg chewable vitamin C tablets. I've noticed an energy improvement, although that could be a placebo effect and really have more to do with the loss of weight and walking.

P90X really pushes their post workout recovery drink mix to help reduce muscle soreness, as well as their protein mixes, but I'm not about to fork over that kind of money (around $50) for a 25 day supply - less, if you follow their diet plan which some days has you drinking 2 or 3 of these drinks. I've done a lot of reading on the benefits of doing a protein/carb booster at the end of a workout, and decided to give it a try. I took a look at the nutritional info on the P90X products, and really thought that something similar could be made at home for pennies, compared to what P90X and other brand names charge for their mixes. Most of the sites I've read push a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 carb/protein intake (about 60 to 75 grams of carbs to about 15 to 25 grams of protein) in the first 45 minutes after a workout. Some alternatives to the expensive drink mixes include a Gatorade/Whey protein combination, others have even recommended using 1% chocolate milk which has the same 4:1 carb/protein ratio. I hesitate on that one, as it seems most of the carbs come from corn syrup.

My own alternative recipe had it genesis from a different situation. About 10 years ago I used to suffer terribly from insomnia. I tried everything friends and I could think of to get over it, but it persisted for months (I did not want to have to resort to over the counter or prescription medications). On the recommendation of a friend of mine I finally found something that worked. I bought a juicer, and began juicing fresh carrot/apple juice. Within a week, I was back to getting full nights of uninterrupted sleep. Now I've dug the juicer out of the garage, and have been juicing 4 or 5 carrots with 1 or 2 apples for the carbs (the 5 carrots to 2 apples works out to around 70 grams of carbs) and adding in a vanilla whey protein powder (25 grams per scoop). This is a nice nightcap to the workout. I don't know how much it's reduced muscle soreness, but I haven't had any bad cramping.

Anybody have any juicing recipes that they use? Any workout recovery advice that you might want to share?

Thanks for reading a long post! Baal

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Wow -- great post, Baal! Very exciting to hear your whole journey. The company-sponsored competition sounds great-- I worked for a place that did this back in 2007, and the incentives weren't nearly as cool as the ones they've laid out for your team.

I don't have any personal experience with P90X, but I have a pastor friend who started it last year and he continues to give me regular updates. He dropped about 50 or 60lbs and looks incredible. He was a total, balloon-faced middle aged doughboy and now he's a ripped, good-looking dude. Most importantly, his health is back on track and he feels great. He mixed up the P90X routines with 3-4-mile runs on off days and he ended up gravitating more towards running as a daily routine once he finished the program.

I use whey protein with no-fat milk in the morning with breakfast and then if I'm running will typically have it with lunch as well. That's about as complicated as I ever get. Breakfast is usually 300 calories for me, lunch about 4-500 and then dinner is usually moderate, with very few restrictions but I usually keep it around 1,000 calories-- easy on carbs and no beer. Truth be told, my new job has me up at 4:30am and out the door by 5:00am... I'm usually home with the kids by 4:30pm and dead tired. Confession-- I haven't run since July. Good news is I got on the scale this morning and I'm still 190. Would like to be down to 180-185, and I'm sure once I find a new schedule for running, that extra 5-10 will drop off right away.

Keep it up dude... and keep up the updates!!!

Edited by Greg P

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Baal, that is great! I've not done the P90X but I will be starting the Power90 workout after I run my first 5K this Saturday. (Power90 is like the beginner workout compared to P90X.) I'm looking forward to switching things up a bit. I will continue to jog a few times a week though.

I have lost 41 pounds since April and have about 29 pounds left to lose to reach my goal. I have hit a bit of a plateau the past month and I hope the Power90 workout will kickstart things again.

Keep us informed Baal. I love to read success stories.

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5K mission accomplished. I ran the race this morning and finished in 28:41 -- good enough for 77th place. ::blushing:: Hey, I'll take it!

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Congrats! That's a great time, too. I saw on Facebook that you made this a goal after turning 40? I hit 40 in six months and have decided I'd like to be able to do 100 push ups. Not necessarily in one, single set but in, like, 20-30 minutes.

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Congrats! That's a great time, too. I saw on Facebook that you made this a goal after turning 40? I hit 40 in six months and have decided I'd like to be able to do 100 push ups. Not necessarily in one, single set but in, like, 20-30 minutes.

Yes. I'd never run, and had actively disdained running, while trying to not actively disdain runners. But my exercise routine was dry, and I figured running might be worth a shot. I surprised myself by running a mile one morning, and decided if I could just add a quarter mile to that "regimen" each month, I'd be ready for a 5K in the fall and a 4-miler on New Year's Eve (both local events). That might sound like a mild training goal -- it turned out that I was ready for the 5K quite some time ago -- but I'm big into "baby steps" and thought the plan sounded reasonable.

I'm not sure what I'll do about running in 2012. My joke this year has been that I'll quit running on Dec. 31, after the 4-miler. But I'm not itching to get back to any other exercise routine.

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Congrats on the 5K, Christian. I've never had much love for running either, so I commend your resolve.

I just finished the third week of the Couch to 5K program, and yesterday morning decided to see how far I could get before walking. I made it just under a mile.

I'm also nearing the end of the 4th week of the P90X program, which is a recovery week consisting mainly of cardio workouts. Next week begins a different regimen of workouts (the P90X muscle confusion theory). I dropped another 14 pounds since my last post, weight now holding at 252. 12 of those pounds came in time for the 2nd weigh-in at work for the competition happening there. I haven't heard if I maintained a spot in the top 3 Biggest Losers, but I know I have earned another pair of movie tickets. :D

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Thanks, Baal, and congrats on that fantastic weight loss!

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Quick update for me: I am now below 200 pounds for the first time in over a decade. I'm very proud of this accomplishment, but I am also kind of embarrassed that it has been so long.

Baal, any updates?

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I've lost about two stone since the summer. It's starting to stagnate and I miss fun food tho!

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Update:

We had our 3rd and final weigh-in at work for the 3 month competition on Nov. 4th. My weight at that time (and currently) was 246, another 6lbs dropped - 37lbs total dropped for the competition, 43 lbs since the end of June. I did not place in the top three losers after the second weigh-in in October. So imagine my surprise when I was told yesterday that I placed second company wide in the overall 3 month competition, and won the 6 month gym membership prize (plus more movie tickets!). I really thought I was out of the running, especially since I seemed to have plateaued in shedding pounds. That was partly due to having to give up the P90X routine. My car, which had suffered a transmission breakdown, finally ceased being able to go into reverse and 1st gear, and is a now permanent resident of the garage, occupying the only space I had to do my workout routine. But, I did purchase a second hand bike, and am now biking the two miles to the train station in Newhall that I had been jogging to, and biking the five miles from the Burbank station to work instead of taking the bus connection. Doing this both morning and evening for a total of 14 miles a day, plus an additional 15 mile ride on Saturday or Sunday.

Next step is to find a gym, then keep this up until next years "one year" weigh-in. I still want to get down to around the 210 mark.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Go, Baal! :sport003:

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You all have inspired me - I already wanted to be more active and eat better, but for a few months now, I've been exercising regularly (brisk walking or treadmill 30+ minutes) and have cut way back on junk food and sweets. And imagine this, I feel much better emotionally, too.

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Tomorrow night is the Fairfax Four Miler. I'm registered. I ran 4.5 miles this morning on the treadmill and won't work out again before the race. I have to remind myself to take it slow. I've twice bombed out on my 4.25-mile outdoor route by trying to run it more quickly than I ought to have. I've completed the route when I've simply started out more slowly.

So that's the goal again -- to finish, regardless of time/speed -- as it was for the 5K I ran in the fall.

Edited by Christian

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I finished the race! The times still haven't been posted online, although I was told they would be. Maybe in an hour?

I'm signing off to eat home-cooked steaks with Sarah, drink Prosecco and watch "Carnage."

Here's to a healthy 2012.

Over and out.

EDIT: Time was 36:56. Not a great per-mile time, but that's OK. The crowd of people early in the race, on the relatively narrow course, forced most of us to go slow. I had planned to go slow, just not that slow.

Edited by Christian

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Congrats, Christian! And amen to a healthy 2012, for all of us!

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After laying off the running for the most part for four weeks, I ran at my older pace for 2.5 miles this morning. It felt great to run again. I would've liked to go a bit farther, but the kids were home and hovering near the treadmill, waiting for daddy to get off, etc.

I'm glad I stopped when I did. I had some slight pain and took a couple of ibuprofen. Over the course of the day, the familiar, dull ache I was experiencing before I bought new shoes returned. I just took a couple more ibuprofen and made an appointment for Friday to see the sports medicine doctor at my family practice. Time to get someone who knows about these things to tell me if I've aggravated a nagging injury or if this is something normal. I doubt it's the latter.

Edited by Christian

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Official diagnosis: Stress fracture.

I'll always remember my "year of running."

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Official diagnosis: Stress fracture.

I'll always remember my "year of running."

Dang... sorry, man. I've had two in the past two years-- as documented here . Is it your fibula?

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Official diagnosis: Stress fracture.

I'll always remember my "year of running."

Dang... sorry, man. I've had two in the past two years-- as documented here . Is it your fibula?

Oh, I'd forgotten that you'd posted about stress fractures, Greg. I'll go back and read those posts.

They didn't tell me where, exactly, the fracture is, but I saw it on the bone scan -- represented by a bright light right where I'd been feeling pain. (Inside right ankle; I can't be more precise than that). The doctor called and said the scan was consistent with a stress fracture, but without naming the bone that was fractured.

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Hi all,

I can't say I've made any *major* lifestyle changes yet, but after recent events, I'm beginning to chip away at a few things.

Last week (i.e. the week beginning Sunday July 1), I woke up twice (on Tuesday and Thursday) at 4 in the morning with a splitting headache, and I couldn't get back to sleep at all. On Tuesday, in particular, the headache stayed with me all day, and it was so debilitating I actually called my mother to ask if she could take over looking after the kids that evening (alas, she couldn't). Wednesday, apparently, wasn't so bad, but when the second wake-up call (so to speak) happened on Thursday morning, I realized I had to see a doctor.

So I went to the local walk-in clinic and was informed that I have hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure). There's an upper number and a lower number, and I keep forgetting what the lower numbers are, but as far as the upper numbers go? The doctor there said normal blood pressure is around 120, give or take, and they normally recommend treatment if it reaches 140 -- and I was at 174.

I went back on Friday and I was still at 170. So he gave me some pills and told me to get some tests. And then, on Tuesday of *this* week, he called me in and told me that the results of my ECG were consistent with those of someone who has had a mild heart attack -- so have I ever had one? Uh, no, I have no recollection of ever having one (though I have since been told that it's *possible* to have them in your sleep...). But apparently that's the shape I'm in, so... (Oh, and when he measured my blood pressure on Tuesday, it was down to 160.)

I'm happy to say that yesterday (i.e. Thursday) was the first day in maybe a week that I managed to get through without taking any headache medicine. And I'm happy to say that I left home last night and the night before to spend time with old friends of mine -- one of whom has apparently been taking meds for his own hypertension since he was 19, and I had somehow never picked up on this fact even though I've *known* him since we were both 19.

In any case, being able to leave home and go back to a normal-ish life was kind of important to me this week, and maybe in the next day or two I'll even darken the door of a movie theatre again... but oh, I'm going to have to avoid the snack bar -- like, really really avoid it -- aren't I?

I will say I did have my last drink of Coke eight nights ago, between my initial visits to the walk-in clinic. It was sort of a "farewell". And while that might not sound like a terribly big lifestyle change, it's kind of a biggie for me. I have never smoked and I have never developed a taste for coffee or alcohol, but I always used to joke that cola was my one "vice". Well, maybe not any more...

In the meantime, I'm waiting to get an appointment-making phone call from the cardiologist, and I have been told I shouldn't start any exercise until *that* guy has taken a look at me and had his say...

Oh, and those of you who follow me on Facebook will have heard about this bit already, but for what it's worth: Two or three days ago, as I was mulling over the lifestyle and diet changes I may have to make, and as I was mulling over the fact that I kind of hate being in my 40s now, I saw a headline about a local celebrity chef who just died, of an undiagnosed medical condition, at the age of 29. So, I'm trying to keep things in perspective.

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Sorry to hear about these developments, Peter. Obviously, I wish you'd been spared the scare, but as far as wake-up calls go, you've had a relatively good one.

I might have mentioned this on another page of this thread, but two years ago I decided I needed to lose 20 pounds, so I downloaded the Lose It! app, which is essentially just a calorie calculator (I'm sure there are others like it). You input what you eat (drawing from a deep database of common foods and restaurant menus) and how much you exercise, and Lose It! tells you at the end of the day if you consumed fewer or more calories than you burned.

I mention this now because using Lose It! for two weeks illustrated the effects of empty calories, portion sizes, and my sedentary lifestyle in ways that no articles or books ever had. Giving up sodas is a huge first step. (A friend who's a trainer makes this priority 1 with every client.) I quickly learned that the difference between gaining and losing weight was as simple as not going back for seconds, going for a walk at lunch, eating one cookie for desert instead of three, and so on. Very small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference, which is important because keeping off weight long-term demands lifestyle changes. I'd recommend something like Lose It! for you, specifically, because I'm guessing it might appeal to the number-cruncher in you.

I turned 40 two months ago and am still bitter about it.

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Thanks for the tip, Darren. I'm downloading the app as we speak. (It comes in Android, yay!)

FWIW, I wouldn't say I've given up pop *entirely*. But I'm definitely insisting on caffeine-free. And I'm phasing into sugar-free too. (The first non-cola my wife got for me was a 12-pack of regular 7-Ups, so I've been working my way through that. But after this I may go for the Diet 7-Ups. I'd actually been avoiding diet drinks partly because I'd heard some concerns about aspartame being a carcinogen, but it turns out that was b.s., at least as far as the American Cancer Society is concerned.)

And yes, smaller portions. The number-cruncher in me has always gravitated to larger sizes partly because you get more food or drink per buck. But lately, I've been going for medium-sized cups where I used to go for larges, or I've been getting six-inch sandwiches where I used to get foot-longs, etc.

And yeah, I've even started picking up the "nutritional information" brochures at places like Subway and Starbucks. Gadzooks, I couldn't believe how much sodium was in some of the items that I used to get quite regularly...

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Yeah, if you're trying to reduce sodium, eating out is tough. Sit-down chain restaurants are the worst offenders.

I grew up in a house where everyone drank soda. As a fairly young kid, I'd get home from school and drink a bottle of Coke. My before-bed "snack" usually included another big glass of Coke, as did every meal we ate out. I drank gallons and gallons of it over the years. And then, in our poor grad-school years, Joanna and I stopped buying soda at the grocery store as a cost-cutter. And then I soon stopped ordering it at restaurants. And soon after that I realized I'd stopped drinking Coke entirely. Now, the taste of soda kinda grosses me out. I hope I can say that without sounding self-righteous (I'm a coffee addict, so I have no room to judge), but sodas really are chemical confections, and if you can break the habit of drinking them, you'll enjoy countless health benefits.

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