Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kickstart time

If you've paid any attention at all to the world of fitness for the last 15 years or more, you're aware that all experts say that you need to change your workout from time to time because the body gets used to a routine and it's no longer as effective. I keep that in mind all the time -- often just changing the intensity of my workout for a week, or something along those lines. Just to break the pattern.

But, I've decided that a bigger change is needed at the moment. Today is weights and measures day and it seems that my weight (i.e., fat) loss has slowed down a good bit, plus my doc asked me to forego any weight work that would affect the shoulders and upper back for at least a week. The combination sent me to the treadmill for my entire workout today and that 45 minutes gave me plenty of time to 1) feel the differences in my body and 2) formulate a game plan.

Body differences? Mostly the perspiration, frankly. I'm soaked! My usual 10 minutes on the treadmill followed by weights just doesn't do that. My lungs and muscles were fine. Mental issues are large, because treadmills are boring and after the first 15 minutes I was feeling the exertion enough that 45 minutes seemed impossible, but I got past that with the help of the tv set built into every treadmill, and choosing a machine in front of the window so I can see people passing by on the plaza outside. Plus a lot of determination. I feel as if I really had a good workout, which is always good. Speed of 3.0, incline of 3.0, heartrate hanging around 105, plus and minus. And of course, my excellent mindfulness constantly reminds me of the folly of frustration whenever that pops up, so in a sense it's meditation time, as well.

New plan? I'll follow the docs advice for a week re the weights, and stick with the treadmill alone. After that week, I'll do one exercise for each muscle group each day, and do it with intensity, rotating exercises each visit. And follow that with 45 minutes on the treadmill, maybe trying a preset program of fat-burning, or something, rather than manual.  Gotta kickstart this fat burning thing again, one way or another!

Other than that -- it's not even 10 am and I'm home for the day, which I'm not crazy about. I'll walk down the hill after lunch, to help digestion and get the heartrate pumped up again, but other than that the days tend to be long, with insufficient activity. And it's hard to change that up here, without taking the long hike up the hill, or driving someplace to walk. But -- I'll figure that out, too. For now -- time to chill and put on some dry clothes.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wetlands in bloom

I needed to make a shopping run to the other end of town this morning, so I opted to take a walk along the Fern Ridge Bike Path while I was out that way. Even with a cloudy day, the wetlands were looking good.

I'm not sure I've ever been on this path without seeing one of these herons (and I've ridden my bike out here countless times). This guy seemed more bothered by the presence of a human than most of them do, but I managed to get a couple of shots of him.

Not sure what this is -- maybe a thistle? But it was cool nonetheless. For once, my camera almost focused perfectly -- but not quite. Admittedly, the detail is poorer in the shots I upload because I intentionally lower the pixel count, resize them for ease of uploading. Unfortunately, that takes away some of the clarity.

The day was foggy, overcast, and a little cool, but that usually makes for good photos, without the glare and shadows of the sun.

I guess this guy was grooming, but he was so still I thought maybe he was sleeping. I'm still not sure!

This is heavy zoom, so again, happy the camera did as well as it did.

The canal is generally alive with water fowl, but I didn't see many today. Once I was out on the bike and I saw a baby raccoon at the water's edge on the other side of the canal. Not sure what he was doing -- getting water, eating something, washing his face -- but he was really cute.

Blossoms were everywhere -- the white Queen Anne's Lace, the blue lupin, plenty of others.

Same flowers, a little closer. Couldn't decide which I liked best so you can decide for yourself.

This is actually my favorite photo of the day. I guess you'll just have to trust me when I say that the original, un-resized version is much more clear.

I was pretty fond of this guy, too. I'd scared him up from another place where I had a perfect shot earlier, but I was too slow on the shutter and he flew back behind me. I managed to catch him again for this and the first photo, hiding behind the foliage. I saw another one off in the distance flying, then landing far from the canal and bike path, probably at its nest. Doesn't matter how many times I see them, I'm always impressed.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

This dieting thing....

The most positive thing I've noticed -- and I notice it daily, over and over -- from this dieting thing is how much better I feel! And that's really what it's all about. All that fat missing mostly from the center of my body is noticeable whenever I walk, or move in almost any way. My torso feels looser, more flexible, lighter. Amazingly so. You'd think that would translate into more energy, but somehow it doesn't. It does translate into a certain springiness in my step, and things like my balance have certainly improved, along with my mental attitude. And despite the lack of energy, I really do feel better in every other way.

The fat is moving more slowly now, but that's not surprising. I've always heard that the longer the fat's been in place, the longer it takes to burn it off, and the pounds that are missing are those that have come on over the past 6 years. Those pounds have also come off twice previously -- each of the past two summers at the Hermitage in Jenner -- so in some respect that fat is fairly new. The rest of it, the older stuff, is just going to take awhile. There's still a long way to go, but progress continues and I've accepted the fact that this is how my life is going to have to be for the rest of that life. Not so drastic, after I reach a point where I'm satisfied, but careful. I will not put that fat back on again!

I'll be spending most of July into August at the Hermitage again, and am hoping that place, with all the walking and hills involved, will work its magic once more and get rid of some of the old fat. And no dieting there! It's never been necessary, as it's a vegetarian diet that I can't totally control and there is plenty of exercise. No couch potato existence, to be sure. That's not the reason I'm going, of course, but it's a nice side effect.

Today is a rest day -- I was pooped again yesterday after my morning leg/shoulder workout. Didn't have energy before the workout, but forced it. By afternoon, this body only wanted to lie down in a position where the muscles did as little work as possible. Today is better, but only marginally so.

I've been in the house alone most of the week -- my roomie took the week off work to help a friend who had knee surgery on Tuesday (torn ACL), and she's been staying over there. She's the nicest possible human being and a great roommate, but I have to admit it's nice to once again have autonomy, and to not worry about making noise in the morning (I'm a morning person and she tends to sleep in on weekends and sometimes weekdays).

Been having awful food cravings for a few days -- wanting a big Mexican lunch at a nice place near here that has good food, good atmosphere and good beer. But a few hours perusing calorie counts from Applebees, which was also a contender, as well as other possibilities to scratch this itch, convinced me that would be foolish. And of course, my Buddhist philosophy considers cravings of any kind to be detrimental and leading to suffering, so I eventually also brought that to bear on the situation and let go of those cravings. I'll satisfy the need for something different here in my own kitchen where I can control the calorie count!

Not much else going on here. Dull, I know. What can I say? Sometimes, dull is good.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chocolate day!

My real reward every week for continuing weight loss is one (1!) piece of dark chocolate bark with peanuts. A 2x3" piece has about 200 calories, and to me it is worth every one of those calories. I combine it with fresh fish day, so the total for the day is still good. A half pound of good Pacific rockfish has few calories and tons of protein, so I treat myself to this every week, too.

I had vague thoughts of eating half this small piece now and the rest after lunch -- but of course, it's all gone. And all appreciated. My body needs some sugar to put energy back into those depleted muscles after the workout, right? I can swing that rationalization easily.

I learned a new lesson yesterday: don't try hiking up the hill through the park a couple of days after tough leg exercises, when the aches and pains are still evident. Not because of the pain, but because that pain tends to signal that the muscles are still tired, not recovered from the intentional stresses of the workout. The mistake became obvious quickly, since the steepest part of the trail is the first part, leaving my driveway and going up steeply for a good while. My leg muscles seemed shocked. What? You expect me to climb this hill? Seriously? Not only were the muscles still tired, they also hadn't recovered full strength and there were a few times when I wondered if they were actually going to lift my body up the next step. But they did, although without a lot of enthusiasm. In fact, I had to force one foot in front of the other all the way up to the downhill trail and beyond. At some point, my speed increased without any conscious effort and in the end it all worked out and I did the whole 3 +- miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes -- only 5 minutes slower than my best time.

As for today -- I woke up with little energy (probably due to yesterday's efforts) and at the gym that translated to little muscle energy, but again I persevered and again I put in the time and effort. My upper arms are still screaming, but that's ok. Not much more for them to do until Wednesday.

Rain here today -- misty rain, for the most part -- and it's very welcome. We're not as bad off as California, but the mountains have little snow and the outlook isn't wonderful for the summer, without rain. Bring it on!

Friday, May 8, 2015


I did myself proud in at the gym this morning!

I've been really lazy in many respects about doing the weight exercises. I always do them, and I've always followed the schedule, worked the muscles that are due to be worked on any given day. But, I've had a tendency to either use lighter weights, or fewer reps, or both, using all kinds of excuses. Particularly on Fridays, when I tend to be tired and can contentedly use the excuses that my legs are plenty strong so I don't need to do these, or my legs already get plenty of exercise -- up and down the stairs here all day, up and down hills. All of that is true, but it doesn't negate the need to do the exercises.

This week, in an effort to boost metabolism (see previous post), I've made myself spend a full 30 minutes on the required exercises, which means much more intensity -- heavier weights, more reps, and being sure to do the full gamut of exercises for those particular muscles. It's worked -- the muscles have felt the fatigue afterwards all week, and some good soreness for a couple of days afterwards. Today seems the worst, though, probably because I haven't been doing these all that much. The quads already don't like walking up or even down the stairs here, and the shoulders are already feeling it, as well. Today is legs and shoulders. Monday is pushing (chest/triceps) and Wednesday is pulling (back/biceps). I can tell that by Sunday, I'll be lucky if I can hobble up and down these stairs!

But it's all good -- and I'll keep it up. All those muscles burn a lot more calories. And even though I haven't been doing as much as I could, I can see and feel new muscles, particularly in biceps and chest. Encouraging!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I've shrunk!

I guess we've all heard that this happens with age, but somehow I didn't believe it had happened to me until I visited the dermatologist yesterday and they measured my height. That's happened before, although rarely, but I guess this was the first time I ever asked for the results. The result is that I'm an inch shorter than I used to be!

Beginning to shrink all over, too -- which is a good thing. I've now finally passed that 10 pound mark, and looking forward to much more. It's a slow process, and while I keep seeking that perfect combination of calories in and exercise out that will get my metabolism rolling, I don't think I'm there. It's ok, but it could be better. I'm maybe averaging 1.5 lbs per week, and I'd be happier with 2. But still. I'm happy that it's moving in the right direction after all these years  of frustration.

Finding that sweet spot is tough. I seemed to hit it a few weeks ago, but then when I tried that hormone reset diet it seemed to slow down, and stay there. Too few calories are as bad as -- or worse than! -- too many calories. Without the right balance, the body will sense that it's getting too few calories and will slow the metabolism to protect itself. To keep this from happening I alternate daily calories a good bit -- some high calorie days (such as last Saturday) followed by a really low calorie day. The high calories keep the body happy, the low calories balance it out. The rest of the week I also vary the calories daily, but not to that extreme.

I've been having a lot of medical tests lately, all routine stuff, for my new doc to see what's going on inside. Everything so far has been perfect, which is not something everyone can say at age 72! Even my cholesterol is down, which keeps the docs happy. My doc in Georgia urged me several times to go on statins, and of course, I refused point blank. I do not do pharmaceuticals if I can at all avoid them. Instead, I went to natural substances such as red yeast rice, which is the natural substance on which statins are based. Other than that -- and spices -- I've done nothing. I eat all the things not generally allowed on a cholesterol diet: eggs, butter, cheese, steak and such.

My blood sugar also is way down. For years it's been creeping upwards slowly, reaching around 108. That's a concern for someone who has a family history of diabetes, yet docs have never shown any concern for it. This last test, it was down in the low 90s. I don't think simply being mostly off sugar for these past couple of months did it -- I think it's much more than that.

Lots of this comes down to herbs and spices. I've written before here of the benefits of adding turmeric and cinnamon to one's diet, and I'd also include ginger in that. I add all three to my morning smoothie and have for a couple of years now. The ginger is fresh, and lately the turmeric is fresh too since I've found it at a local Asian food store at an affordable price. I think these things are largely responsible for the overall changes, good changes, more than anything. Yes, I take care of the body in other ways as well, but I eat pretty much what I want as long as I take in sugar and grains in small doses.

One thing that wasn't good in this recent bloodwork was the white blood cell count, which is back to being way low as it was before I left Brookings 5 years ago. This new, young doc, who I really like, will test it again in mid-May to see if it's still that way or if that was an anomaly. I eat things to boost the immune system, including yogurt and probiotics with a particular strain of bacteria that is helpful for this, but I'm certainly not as good about it as I was for awhile 5 years ago after the first issue with this. Could this be the cause of my fatigue? I don't think it's just age and too much activity.

Oh, well. Can't worry about it. I think that if I'd had some terrible disease 5 years ago, as the hematologist suggested was possible, it would have progressed to a point where it would be noticeable, and that hasn't happened.

Today is cattery day -- off to play with the gatos.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Autzen and Marcus

Today I finally, finally, got to go to a football game at Autzen Stadium! It was only the spring game and not very intense, but it was my first time and therefore awesome to me just to be there. Just so you know, the stands filled up pretty well before the game started -- over 35,000, which is pretty good for a free spring game. Or so I'm told.

Naturally, about the time I left home the warm sunny day had become a cool overcast day, but that's ok, too. The sun did eventually come out and the day was (and is) perfect.

I was thinking this morning, looking back on my life, and the last time I can remember attending a football game in person must have been 1960, when I was a teenage high school student in Germany. I only slightly paid more attention to the game today than I did way back then, because there were too many distractions. Don't get me wrong -- I loved it, but there were things other than the game to draw my attention. I expect it would be different in a 'real' game, with the full intensity of competition, but experiencing Autzen even in this kind of game was super.

One big distraction in my mind today was the knowledge that our own, now Nashville's own, Marcus Mariota would be attending the game. He was acknowledged at half time with this video, but was so far away that I never really saw him other than on the big screen. However, after I knew how he was dressed and roughly where he was hanging out, I kept looking for him during the second half. My moment came when I saw a photographer running along the sideline towards the end of the Oregon players right below where we were sitting, and then there he was, live and in person.

For once (in recent weeks) my camera and its zoom lens behaved and I ended up with a bunch of long-lens photos. With the lens at full zoom (24x) it's hard to find the subject you want, and hard to keep that subject in view, but fortunately he was the only one in that group wearing green so I just kept following the green, snapping the shutter, and hoping for the best. Mind you, this is the standard view from where I was sitting:

Marcus and his crowd of fans were all the way at the end of this walkway, right around the 10 yard line, so you will appreciate these photos for what they are, not what they could have been. Personally, I think the camera did a pretty good job, considering what it had to work with. There he is, green shirt, black cap. Adoring crowds wanting a bit of him. 'My' bit of him came mostly from the rear, but I can live with that. I'm happy to have good focus.

Clearly, everybody wanted a piece of him, just as I did, including this ref who ran from a distance and hollered at him, shook his hand. And Marcus, being Marcus, was patient and kind to every one of them.

Maybe not the last time we'll see him visit, and maybe even not the last time he'll be wearing Oregon green, but certainly the first time at Autzen without the jersey with the number 8 on it.

So yeah, I enjoyed the whole thing, including 'shout' from 'Animal House between the 3rd and 4th quarters, but it was really cool to see this kid once, in person, even from a distance. A good day followed by a super hamburger and beer at Falling Sky Brewery.