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: A Run in the Woods

So Monday, in my continuing quest for greater fitness (and overall looking good) I decided to mix things up a bit and stop for a run along a trail after work Monday. Of course I’m using the term “run” loosely but thought it would be interesting to see how I did off a track and on a trail. So I stopped by one of my favorite Toledo Metroparks (Wildwood) which I had not been to in far too long, laced up my running shoes, turned on my running app and took off.

The course I selected was about 2.3 miles long and I planned to run 1/5th of a mile followed by walking 1/5th of a mile. This lasted for about half a mile then I fell into a 1/10th run…jog…waddle and 1/10th walk. I cleverly timed the running portion to always go uphill…yeah, I totally planned that part.

Traffic on the trail was heavy, as anticipated since Wildwood is one of the most popular parks, and everyone from a grade school class of runners (who only lapped me once), teens, young adults, middle aged folks and even a few elderly folks. The day was hot and humid.

I realized that runners, and walkers, have a sort of code when encountering each other on the trail. Often just a nod of the head, or a quick wave to sort of say “hey, I see you kindred spirit – just can’t talk now.” Other gestures are more complex. For example there’s one with the little finger and index finger extended, like surfers use, which seems to say “I see you. Keep going, if you don’t make it back I’ll help identify your body,” and another less popular gesture using the middle finger which seems to be for “dear sir, perhaps you don’t notice that I am behind you and cannot get around your <expletive deleted> FAT <colorful colloquialism for buttocks>!” or am I the only one who gets that? My favorite signal is from other gentlemen, like myself, of a certain age who smile knowingly while breathing hard. A gentle nod and slight wave that says, “me too brother, me too…”

At one point I spotted a man dressed in yellow who appeared to be on a trail which ran perpendicular to mine and then parallel with me until he disappeared silently into the forest. I never found the intersection of the trail he was one with my trail nor did I see his trail on a map. So, I can only presume that he was some sort of modern version of a Will o’ the Wisp and there to encourage me to continue further along my path. Such a waste of supernatural energies as it only served to freak me out (perhaps the lack of oxygen to my brain at this point had something to do with my line of thinking at the time).

Going up and down hills, or what pass for hills in Northwest Ohio, was different and I did feel it in my thighs the next day. However, running through nature has a charm and attraction all it’s own. It is difficult to hear the sounds of the woods over the loud breathing and beating heart, but the sights are there. The changing of the light as it filters through the green canopy above, the rustle of smaller wildlife getting out of your way. All reminders that we (i.e. humans) used to be one with this environment. It’s where we came from and in many ways it’s were we need to return to. A slower pace that reminds us that life is bigger than any one of us and should be preserved.

Though I didn’t do as well as hoped, I was pleased that I was able to actually run much of the trail and I followed my 2.3 miles with another mile or so “cool down” walk along the Ottawa River where I saw a couple deer and a Great Blue Heron…and a couple runners from the other trail who were still at it…good for them. Maybe that will be me one day. Though I won’t resort to the one fingered gesture.

There’s no glory in victory if you can’t be humble about it after all.

Onward!

Rockwell Bodybuilder

Fitness Quest Update

Well, my quest for fitness is still ongoing – as I suppose it should be for the rest of my life when I think about it – and the good news is that I’m starting to notice some progress. I’ve entered into a pact of sorts with my sister and niece and we are all working on the Couch 2 5K program. Not doing it strictly by the book but I’m surprising myself each week that I’m going a little farther and faster each time. In addition I’m also walking during lunch at work and am up to 2 miles. The heat makes it a little difficult as I do get a little sweaty now so I’m taking a fresh shirt with me to use while walking so I don’t make the rest of the office suffer from my presence when I get back. Again, I’m seeing progress in my speed and distance.

Not seeing much progress on the weight loss though which is frustrating as according to MyFitnessPal I’m staying under my calorie goals each day, plus all the extra cardio. However, I’ve noticed that my “macros” are still off and I’m not getting enough protein and worse still I seem to be substituting the protein with fat. I’m going to have to do a better job on my meal prep I think, especially for dinner.

I’m also a little surprised at the number of fitness apps I’m using now: MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, MapMyWalk, and my Jawbone UP2. Plus, I’ve put together a small group of like minded Facebook friends (which I really appreciate and enjoy), have a fitness board or two on Pinterest and still check out Bodybuilding.com on occasion. I think I have actually crossed the line from dabbling in fitness to starting to live a fitter lifestyle. Now if I could only get the biceps to grow again. I mean, a low heart rate is great and all, but you can’t flex your heart (or at least you shouldn’t)!

I wonder if it’s too late in life to have abs?

Onward!

P.S. the Humira seems to still be doing the trick for my Crohn’s. I’ve only had one significant flare up in the past couple months. It lasted for a while but was never to the point that I was incapacitated more than one morning.

A Journey of 10,000 Steps

So, I’ve started using an UP 24 (by Jawbone) which like Fitbit and other devices along with the appropriate telephone apps is a device to aid and push a person towards better fitness. In a very basic way though it’s a glorified pedometer that does some other nifty things too (it lets me know how often I wake up at night for example – usually once) and one of the first goals to achieve is taking 10,000 steps through the day.

My first day I did okay and took over 8,000 steps. So 10,000 should have been easy right? Wrong! I got to 8,000 only because we went to see “The Lights Before Christmas” at the Toledo Zoo (yes, yes, we saw the “Lights BEFORE Christmas” AFTER Christmas so sue me). The next day (Saturday) I only got in about 1,800 steps. Granted I was at home and not at work but clearly I needed to step up my game so to speak (“step up” get it?). So today I took a walk around town…and when I say around town I mean around the entire town. I followed a path that roughly estimated the city limits of the small town I live in (actually near) and after about an hour in the cold guess what? I only added about 4,000 more steps to my daily total. This left me without about 2,000 more steps to take.

So, on a whim I came up with a different idea. Instead of walking around town, what if I walked around my yard? I paced the perimeter of my yard off I discovered I could get in about 400 steps by doing this. Then I thought what if I also went around my house? Bingo – another 200 steps. What if I went around every bush and tree? Well, what do you know I could get almost 1,000 steps just by tracing a path in my yard. Then while walking around, counting to myself I had a thought. Gosh, this is almost like a labyrinth.

Now many of you may know that labyrinths, patterns drawn on the floor of a church, were a tool used by many early Christians, and presumably other religions, for meditation and prayer purposes. It’s also my understanding that many of these early Christians used the labyrinth to take the place of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There’s a nice article on labyrinths at the Washington National Cathedral’s website if you want to know a little more: http://www.cathedral.org/worship/labyrinth.shtml

So all in all, I’m pleased with my day. I got a little healthier by getting my steps in and stumbled on a way to clear my head and meditate and prayer in my own backyard. No the only question is what will the neighbors think when they see me wandering around and muttering to myself. I better get one of those blue tooth headsets so it looks like I’m on the phone.

Onward!