Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Even taking care of the parts I don't see

Yesterday morning I had a lab follow-up to my annual physical, and it was pretty eye-opening.  When the doctor pulled up the results he asked if I wanted to hear the good news or the bad news, and I simply requested he started at the top of the pile and work his way down.

He started with the good news, which included that I do not have diabetes, am HIV-negative, my liver works great, no kidney problems, and I do not have syphilis (which, by the way, who gets syphilis nowadays?).  Then he dropped this bombshell:

My triglycerides came in at 457.

To put this number into perspective, below 150 is healthy, up to 200 is slightly above normal, and 500 or greater is considered a very high risk of heart attack and stroke.  This number is so high that they couldn't get an accurate reading of my LDL (bad cholesterol), and my HDL (good cholesterol, which is believed to keep LDL in check) is only 37 (this should be 40 or higher).  This number puts me at a statistical likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke between the ages of 40 and 45 (in less than seven years!).

While he complimented me on making the right behavioral choices and instructed me to keep up the good work (including losing weight, eating right, and exercising), he did explain my number is genetic.  Basically my body does not process fat like a "normal" person's body would, and that I can blame the paternal side of my family for it (although my maternal grandfather did have his first heart attack in his early-30's).

The good news is this is a treatable disease.  There are a couple minor lifestyle tweaks I need to make (eat fish oil pills, back off a little more on the salt, and trade a little bit of my meat for more vegetables), and I now on a medication that will help me process these fats.  I go back in two months for another round of tests, and the best news is that I have plenty of time to straighten this out.  I am extremely grateful to have gone to my annual physical.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What is more expensive?

I am pleased to report that I am still moving in the right direction:

  • April 22 - 230.4
  • April 15 - 231.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
I am so close to losing a zero, and it is feeling pretty awesome.  In order to hit my goal of 220 by Memorial Day I need to lose on average slightly more than 2 pounds per week; this is a tough goal, and it will surely be down to the wire.  I am looking for a big week next week (3-ish pounds) to get me rolling.

I also knocked a few more seconds off my swimming mile time and clocked in at 57 minutes 10 seconds; I would have been in the 56 minute range had I not had to share my lane for 15 laps.  I also got a comment this afternoon on the improved definition in my arms (hubba hubba).

I came across an interesting study performed by the Mayo Clinic regarding the cost of smoking versus that of obesity, and while I am not surprised by the results the magnitude of difference was staggering.  When the study determined the total cost of care (treatment for behavior-related disease) the annual cost of smoking was $1,274 to $1,401 and obesity $5,467 to $5,530.

In our economy-obsessed American society, health care policy makers should be leading with this type of information.  Diseases such as type-II diabetes, high blood pressure, and orthopedic injuries (fortunately, the latter is the only one currently affecting me) are, for most of the population, avoidable yet incredibly expensive.

The moral of this study is that by losing weight around the belly you can gain weight in your wallet.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back on the horse; a very fast horse

After a one "meh" week and another "oh crap" week, I am finally back on the horse.  Here are the numbers:

  • April 15 - 231.2
  • April 8 - 234.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
That's right, not only did I lose 3 pounds since last week, but I am also .2 pounds away from dropping a total of 25!  As a sidebar, I also swam my first sub-60 minute mile; it took me 57 minutes and 30 seconds today.  Both of these accomplishments make me feel pretty awesome right now.

I think the success of this past week is that I intentionally made time to do something almost each night.  Tuesday night I did yoga for the first time (more on that in later posts), Thursday night I did the Wii Active (it is a surprisingly intense workout), and Friday night I played drums for an hour-plus.  These little things clearly added up.

Now it is time for a shower; the smell of chlorine and sweat is not very appealing.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Flatlining to a lesson

So this week I decided it was a good idea for not to write down everything I ate.  Here is what happened:

  • April 8 - 234.2
  • April 1 - 234.2
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
The good news is that I didn't put on any weight.  The bad news is that it will be really tough to hit 220 by Memorial day now (I will have to average slightly better than 2 lbs./week).

To be clear, I am in no way discouraged by this week's result; I am someone who is programmed to work harder the tougher things get.  It is, however, an important reminder that I have to treat my food fundamentally different that I had been historically: in order for me to lose/maintain weight over the long term, I need to write it down.

As a sign of good news, I missed hitting my mile in less than an hour by five seconds.  I'm so close I can smell it (for the record, it smells like a weird combination of sweat and chlorine)!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Now I see it!

I just got back from the first full-body strength session since January, and before jumping in the shower I snapped a few photos of my body.  For the first time my change is obvious, and frankly it is amazing what a difference 20-ish pounds makes.  Here you go.

First, here is what I look liked on January 2:

And this is how I look today:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Moving in the right direction

Today's weigh-in was one of those pleasantly surprising ones.  I ate out a couple times; I only swam once (however, it was a whole mile and four minutes quicker than my first attempt); I made it to the gym only once for weights (although I likely made up for this with two at-home elliptical sessions); and despite this imperfect week I still managed to drop a little weight.  Here are the numbers:

  • April 1 - 234.2
  • March 25 - 234.8
  • January 2 (start date) - 256
I know it is just over a half pound, but the most important thing is that I am still moving in the right direction.  Also, over the last two weeks I have dropped 2.6 pounds (an excellent pace).

As I have mentioned several times on this blog, the purpose of this journey is to get healthy.  Unfortunately that also includes a trip to the doctor.  Between last Tuesday and this coming Monday I have/have had the following appointments:
  • Primary care physician for a general physical
  • Ophthalmologist (which led to an appointment with a Strabismologist a month from now) for my double vision
  • Podiatrist for plantars fasciitis (with another follow-up that may lead to a cortisone injection in my heel; I do not want this)
  • Dexa scan as a bone density test
As my PCP put it, I have a very complex medical history given I am only 33 years old (yes, he actually said that).  In spite of this, I still need to do the right thing and take care of those things that ail me.  If I am going to put all this effort into losing weight, then the last thing I want is for another condition to prevent me from being able to do something.

Onward to the next week!