Fitness Quest and Crohn’s Update: July 2016

Wow! I knew I hadn’t been blogging for a while but I didn’t realize it’s been 3 months. I’ve been busy I guess but I haven’t forgotten my fitness goals and efforts. So, here’s the update for those interested:

Crohn’s – doing well. The Humira treatment seems to continue to work. I wouldn’t call what I’m experiencing full remission, but it’s close. I’ve had a few “queasy” days this summer but nothing major to keep me off work or anything. I’m due for another round of testing/scanning/probing this fall and I expect that I’ll here that my condition remains essentially unchanged from last year. Which would be the best news I could expect (the damage can’t be undone, but if further damage is prevented that’s all I need to keep avoiding surgery).

Fitness: I did pretty well again, for me, with the Rose Run 5K that I’ve been participating in. I beat my time from last year thanks in large part to the urging and support of my niece who ran with me. So this is the third straight year of doing better than the year before! My new goal is to get below a 30 minute 5K. I came in 4th in my age group with 5 behind me by the way. My official time was 41:55 and I’m several minutes faster than when I started 5 years ago. Not a huge change, but a positive one. Especially given how little I actually train for it.

I’ve been keeping up with my weight workouts with my brother-in-law. The weight is going up, my body weight is going down (usually), my waist is shrinking and my biceps are growing. Things are on track in this area.

I participated in a “22 Push Ups for 22 Days” to raise awareness of Veteran Suicide. On average, 22 vets in the USA commit suicide each day. This was a pure awareness campaign but I thought an important one. Plus, doing the push ups each day really seemed to up my feeling of well-being each day. I’m continuing to do them even though the challenge is over. I’m planning to work my way to 100 per day (in one set) by the end of the year.

Mountain Climbing: as a benefit of my increased fitness I took on the challenge of climbing the 2nd highest mountain in the contiguous USA (Mt. Elbert) when visiting Colorado this summer. Unfortunately, I only made it to 13,000 feet and was about 1,400 vertical feet short of the summit. It was a fun day nonetheless with a couple cousins who live in Colorado (they made the summit). The thin air was too much for me – or rather not enough for me. Next time, I acclimate at a higher elevation for several days. Next goal though is to fail to summit the highest point in the contiguous USA – Mt. Whitney in California.

Nutrition: as mentioned earlier, my weight has been decreasing. But, in my continuing quest to build muscle while losing fat I’ve been experimenting with my diet. My most recent experiment was to reduce my carbs significantly and increase my protein. There have been some conflicting studies on the effectiveness of this. But, I’ve known a couple people who really dropped the weight while doing this and my limited experience so far is that it does work. I’m still playing with how to add some carbs back in occasionally, since they have a place in the overall healthy diet and maintaining daily “energy,” so more on this later.

Mental Health: overall, I’m still a happy and positive person. Sure, I have my moments like everyone else, but I don’t have much to complain about. My “new” job is going well with supportive co-workers and supervisors, my friends are few but close, my family closer and my faith is strong. The only thing that threatens my well-being right now is the back and forth bickering on Facebook concerning the presidential campaign. Just a few more months…

So, overall things are good. I feel healthy, I look healthier, and I’m more active than I’ve been in a long time. Old age is still creeping up on me (I notice more daily aches and pains) but I’m putting it off as long as I can and hope you will do the same.

Onward!

 

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Fitness Quest and Crohn’s Update: April 2016

The good news is that I’ve been keeping busy since my last blog. I’ve actually completed production on two plays that I acted in (one in February and one in April), I’m feeling pretty comfortable with my “new” position at work (I’ve been in it since September so I can’t really call it new anymore I suppose), and over all my health has been good. Not great, but good.

My Crohn’s seems to be more active over the last couple months. I haven’t had much in the way of full-blown flare ups but I’ve had some significant pain on and off, digestive issues, and an overall malaise/weakness/weariness which are all signs of Crohn’s activity. Things have been mild enough that I feel the Humira is still working but something has been going on. I’m also suspicious that some of what I’m attributing to Crohn’s is actually gallbladder related as the pain is just below my right rib cage. However, the “gurgling” and assorted noises sure don’t sound like my gallbladder! On top of this I’ve been plagued with a on again/off again cough. Sometimes it’s a full blown cold, sometimes it’s nasal congestion, all the times is annoying.

In terms of my fitness efforts, well…due to the previously mentioned feeling of malaise I haven’t been working out like I should. My weightlifting has been spotty at best, I haven’t been getting in my walks regularly, and as far as running goes…I don’t. I have had an attempt or two and now that spring seems to actually be here I really need to get back on track. I’ve been averaging less than 10,000 steps per day for some time and it’s time to get that count up at the very least.

On the plus side I’m at my lowest body weight this century! I have been tracking my food and macros so I think that is really helping. I’ve noticed that I’m not getting enough protein and too many fats so I need to reverse that. Especially since the protein will help me to retain/build muscle which becomes more critical as I approach yet another birthday next month.

I have goals for the summer which includes some mountain climbing on a trip to Colorado. If weather and conditions permit I hope to finally summit Long’s Peak – one of Colorado’s 14,000 footers. I had gotten as far as the Keyhole once in the past but due to a storm was not able to push on to the peak. Fortunately, I have a cousin who is an avid climber and he’s offered to take me up when I’m out there. But, in order to make it I’ve got to be in good cardiovascular shape – especially since I’m not used to the “thin” air – and my legs have to be strong enough to tackle the 15 mile round trip (half of it uphill).

The good news is that I won’t be lugging as much fat on the mountain. Wish me luck.

Onward!

longs-peak-aug-31
Long’s Peak 
In the Boulder Field of Long's Peak
Me in the Boulder Field of Long’s Peak back in the mid-eighties
Fruits and veggies

Crohn’s Update: February 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all (or at least those who may be interested) on how my life with Crohn’s has been going. In brief: very well!

I did have a small flare-up in January which lasted two-three days, but it was mild even by my standards (no vomiting, “controllable” diarrhea, a lot of grumbling, gurgling, and gas). So, the Humira seems to still be doing the job.

I’m taking my vitamins each day (B12, Iron, Calcium, D, multi-vitamin) as per my doctor’s recommendations, and I’m trying to pay much, much closer attention to my diet. My macros are still off as I’m getting more fats than proteins but I’m getting better. I have been in touch with another fellow “Crohnie” though and he says that when he flares up he finds that the fatty, greasy food seems to go down better just like I do. I haven’t seen anything in the literature about this, so it may be imagination, but it was good to hear that someone else has the same experience I do.

Everything else is going fairly well, too. My new job (which I’ve started in September) has been enjoyable and I feel that I’m in the swing of things with a supportive supervisor, staff and colleagues (always a plus), I’m keeping up with my workouts for the most part, and I’m in a play again with a different theatre group which is turning out to be a real joy (“One Slight Hitch” by Lewis Black at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, February 12, 13, and 14 – www.toledorep.org for tickets and showtimes).

My spirits are good and I’ve found time to take some vacation time with my family (New Orleans over Winter Break and a weekend in Chicago with my brother last weekend). So I’m certain that the relative lack of stress right now has helped to keep things calm in my digestive track.

Goals for the new year are pretty much the same as always: health and happiness. Looking to lose fat, build muscle, etc. like everyone else. I do want to also spend more time with my spiritual health and get back to being more studious of the Bible and my faith. I think that this helps with my overall calmness and happiness as well. Probably very important in the coming year. Election season you know…

Onward!

 

 

Rockwell Bodybuilder

Crohn’s Update: June 2015

Thought I should update everyone on my Crohn’s and general fitness since it’s been awhile. The good news is that overall I’m doing well. The Humira seems to be keeping the Crohn’s in check, though I have had a few episodes of vomiting (3 since starting the treatment) and a few days of low activity causing me some intermittent pain and lack of appetite. These periods have coincided with me becoming overly tired or bad weather (thunderstorms). However, I haven’t had an episode which has kept me from work or other activities.

Also, I am lucky in one other way – I have doctor’s orders to avoid broccoli! His thought is that because it is a high fiber food it’s possible that it can get caught in the stricture (damaged area) of my intestine and cause the pain. I told him that it would be difficult but somehow I would go on without eating broccoli. I also offered to avoid a variety of other vegetables if it would help. He assured me to just test avoiding the highest fiber foods and he thought I could get by.

In the workout world, my elbow pain has subsided so I can lift again which is good. I still plan on running (walking?) in a 5K, the Rose Run, in mid-July. Not sure if I’ll do as well as hoped since I haven’t been doing my cardio as I should over the past couple months but we’ll see. My weight is not going up but it’s not going down too much either. However, I don’t feel as “fat” as I have and my pants are starting to literally fall off me. I’m hesitant to go down a size though because there are times I need the extra room due to bloating from the Crohn’s.

Time to set a couple new fitness goals I think…I’ll get back to you all on those.

Onward!

Update: One Week on Humira

Well, I’ve been on Humira as a treatment for my Crohn’s now for one week and so far, so good. I haven’t had any of the short term side effects except for a little muscle soreness the first day. I’ve already noticed improvement in how I feel each day, though I have to admit that every time I eat something I expect that I’ll have pain – but so far I haven’t had any. I’ve even noticed that there are times where I don’t feel my “gut” on the inside. However, I am still a middle aged man so I don’t want to push my eating to the limit – indigestion can happen to anyone after all. I have also noticed that my bowel movements are changing (stop reading if you don’t want to hear about normal bodily functions) and instead of going two or three times a day I’m down to about one without the bloating that constipation would bring! My usually sore “bottom” isn’t and that in and of itself it actually a remarkable thing.

So, in brief, I’m very hopeful that this new treatment continues to work for me.

In exercise news I’ve developed a pain in my elbow. At first I thought it was “tennis” elbow but after further web searching and self-diagnosis I think it is actually “golfer’s” elbow (on the inside of the arm instead of the outside). My guess is that I strained it while weight lifting. The bad news is that it’s difficult to curl when you can’t lift the weight without a sharp pain. Looks like I’ll have to put off “loading the guns” and focus on legs and cardio for a little bit. If the pain doesn’t ease up it’s off to the doctors again.

It’s always something…

Onward!

Crohn’s Update: Humira

Well, after what seems like years (it’s only been weeks) I’m finally on Humira (adalimumab). You may remember that after finally having my Crohn’s re-diagnosed my doctor thought it would be best to put me on some new medication in an effort to avoid surgery in my future. I was, of course, all for this.

However, I didn’t realize what it took to get the medicine that I was prescribed and now have a better appreciation of what some friends and family have been complaining about. Because of the expense of Humira my insurance company had to pre-approve me getting it (despite the prescription). Then once it was approved the prescription had to go through a specialty pharmacy because it needs to be kept refrigerated. So, I can’t get this picked up at the local Walgreen’s I have to call in each month to have it shipped to me (not a huge problem, but not what I’m used to). Then there is this entire “support” team to monitor me while I take it. An “ambassador” to check up on me every couple weeks, a nurse to train me on how to take the injections, and others. I think I understand why it costs so much.

The good news is that I took my first dose yesterday. I start with 4 doses the first day, then two weeks later I take 2 doses, and then 1 dose every other week from then on. Not a bad schedule as far as life-long medicines go (if not life-long than at least until something better comes along). And the injector “pen” that I use really does make the injection fairly painlessly.

I did have a slight headache yesterday and some muscle soreness (among the least of the side effects) but those seem to have passed. But I noticed something else odd today…I couldn’t feel my insides. There were no odd rumblings, no twinges of pain every couple of hours, no after lunch ‘bloat.’ I don’t know how quickly this stuff is supposed to work and it’s possible that some of the effects may only be of the placebo variety but still – I think that this may be the start of something good.

Unless I get lymphoma (another rare side effect). That would be bad…

Onward!