A New and Improved Me…Maybe

June 1, 2012

This is not a fitness or health blog for a reason.

And that reason is I do not pay enough attention to my health to have anything to say about it.

But with summer vacation here, and some extra time on my hands (outside of the thousand tasks to do which must wait for summer), I have decided to embark on a quest for better health.

It’s going to be rough.

It’s going to be tough.

I’m three days in, and I want to quit already.  I am bearing my efforts to you in the full knowledge that I may fail as early as this weekend.

So, what is it I’m doing…or hope to do, to get myself in tip top shape?

It’s What Goes Into a Man That Makes Him Unclean

I’ve always been a skinny guy.  Chock it up to good metabolism.  As a college student, I had two jobs, one of which was delivering phone books.  I would come home every day and eat an entire pizza, or whatever I wanted.  My doctor said I was underweight, and when I told him about my daily routine, he told me to keep it up.

But ten years later, things have slowed down, and I’ve become a little…spongy.  I try to watch what I eat, but that means I just watch a lot of delicious food as it goes into my mouth.  I usually scoff at diets as scams.

But when my similarly-built brother told me he had bought a Jack LeLane juicer and had attempted a juice fast, I was impressed.

I was less impressed when he told me he broke down after two days and ate some McDonald’s.  But whatever, he’s doing P90X, so I guess he can afford it.  He dropped ten pounds, despite his splurging.  Let’s face it, blogging isn’t exactly aerobic exercise.

So I became motivated.  Surely, I can drink juice longer than my no-self-control brother!  So that’s what I’m doing.  Just juice, and some solid fruits and vegetables.  No meat.  No bread.  No fat.  No dairy.  No added sugar.  I’m going to attempt to do this for eight days.

Sigh.  Those are five things I love.  And this comes at a really bad time because my wife just bought some cajun flavored cheese curds.

How to Feel Good…or At Least Look Good

I’ve never been a very athletic guy.  Keeping an exercise routine has always been tough for me.  I tend to get absorbed into projects and just kind of let myself go.

I hate running.  Hate it.  I can see why all the villains in horror movies never run after their victims, they just walk while the victim runs frantically.  The villain always catches them anyway, and they aren’t all out of breath!

On Memorial Day, some friends and I did some biking.  We biked almost ten miles.  We felt good.  Our lungs were full of fresh air.  Our legs were wobbly.  But then we had to bike back to our cars, another ten miles.

Let’s just say the last ten miles were not as fun.

But I decided that would be my kickstart into a new exercise routine.  Biking or…sigh…running…six mornings a week.  Let’s be honest, it’s going to be running / walking.  Maybe I should get some running shorts.  There are a lot of people up running every day, and I feel like they can tell I’m not very good at this if I don’t have the right clothes.

I Have a Dirty Mind

Lastly, I feel that if my intestines are holding all these toxins that the internet “experts” say it is, then surely my mind must need some cleaning too.

That means reading a few new books.  I’m most of the way through Ian Morgan Cron’s Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me.  It’s a fantastic memoir.  I’ll probably read Inside of the Dog when I’m done, if only because it will finally enable me to tell every dog lover that no, your dog doesn’t think he’s a person.

And I’ll probably do a retreat at a monastery.  I did that a couple of years ago.  I mostly slept.  The life of a monk is very sleep-inducing.  My wife is asking if I’m going to do that again.  I think she needs to detox from me.

And when I come back, I’m going to have a burger from Five Guys.  And maybe I’ll give you an update on how I’m doing.

Okay, let’s have it.  Give me your best health tips, your routines (both successful and failed), and the diets, fads and tricks that wasted your time and left your more slovenly and unhealthy than ever.

25 responses to A New and Improved Me…Maybe

  1. I.,be eaten so much Chinese food that I,m shaped like Buddah

  2. Juicing is a great way to detox your body and slim down while you do it. Incorporating it into your daily routine is recommended as well, not just when you’re doing a juice fast.

  3. You wouldn’t expect it to look at me, but I actually do have patients that sometimes ask me for weight loss advice. Here’s stuff I usually tell people–

    1) “Detoxing” is a myth. Your colon is already designed to remove toxins without any extra help. However, if you start eating healthier stuff, you will just naturally feel better.

    2) Don’t make any really extreme changes. “Diets” don’t work because only crazy OCD people can stick to stuff like fasting or drinking nothing but juice. You’ll generally drop weight that way but you’ll gain it all right back. The weight loss is more permanent if you do it gradually–about 1-2 pounds per week–and do it by making small manageable changes to your routine.
    I’ve had some luck by cutting out all sugary beverages (they add a lot of calories without being filling) and being more careful when I’m eating out (like taking home half of the meal.)

    3) You don’t have to give up ALL the food you love, just eat it in moderation.

    4) An excercise routine is easier to stick to if it’s something that you like doing. Just walking is fine as long as you’re getting your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day.

  4. As Paul said to Timothy, bodily exercise profiteth little. Yet he did not say that it profiteth nothing; so hang in there!

  5. I hate running too. A couple of years ago I did Couch to 5k (which is exactly what it sounds like). It works you up to running a 5k over 9 weeks or so and it sucks much less than just deciding one day to run a 5k. I highly recommend it for non-runners.

  6. Hannah (culture connoisseur) June 1, 2012 at 8:31 am

    You can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies. My husband and I changed to a vegan diet as an experiment to see if my heart palpitations would go away and if his chronic heartburn would quit. After one month he was heartburn free and lost a significant amount of weight. My heart murmur is gone AND my chronic back pain and a wart on my hand disappeared.

    The healing power of veggies. I’m a believer! :)

    We have always been pretty healthy people, and thin. But the difference we feel now is night and day. We aren’t still vegans. We’re herbivores who enjoy a piece of lean meat on occasion. But the vegan eating really detoxed us and now that oh-so-bad-for-you food has lost most of it’s thrill.

    Good luck! And keep us updated on your journey! :)

  7. justapeekartwork June 1, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I’ve lost 98 lbs in the last 3 years. Doesn’t seem like a very fast way to acheive the goal, but I can tell you the simple lifestyle changes have been an easier fit for me. I know losing the weight slowly will ensure a greater success in the end. I know alot of people that are exercise hogs, including my husband of 32 years. Can’t say he seems any happier or more spiritually fit than myself. Let’s get real, I’m a painter and author, and it doesn’t take alot of physical activity reaching for those stars. Maybe if God called me to be a planet I’d be more motivated. I just know that as I’m aging, I need to have a little “check”. I can’t continue to treat this “temple” with such little regard. But mostly, I’d say get body focused to make an upgrade for the Holy Spirit. A little refinancing in fresh air goes a long way! As for the world’s take on fats and oils? Well, all sheep sweat and we need a good oil now and then to keep the flies off.

  8. One of my favorite subjects!

    As you know, Matt, I suffered a heart attack last April and I was in ICU for a week. The doctor told me that 1/3 of the people that have my heart condition die, 1/3 need a heart transplant, and 1/3 recover to varying degrees of success. The bottom line, life expectancy: 5 to 10 years.

    It got my attention.

    I was like you. I was 165 (6′ 1″) at HS graduation. I was never more than 180 until I was 41. I ate loads of pizza and anything else I wanted. I went up to 230 and dieted down to 190 in 2000. I went to 245 and got it back down to 195 with diet and exercise in 2003. I went up to 276 and got sick in 2011. Not only did I have heart issues, but I had high blood pressure, pre-diabetic sign, bad cholesterol, and joint problems due to my obesity.

    Since then I got on board with the doctors, the trainers and the nutritionists. I have lost over 60 pounds and stayed that way for nearly a year. Oh yeah, and I got healing prayer for my heart at church. Let’s just say my last cardiologist report was “Like it never happened!

    Here is what I am doing.
    – Count every calorie using the website MyFitnessPal.com
    – I consume lean read meat, fish and poultry. About 4 ounces a day. No processed meats.
    – I only eat whole grains.
    – Lots of fruit and vegetables.
    – Small amounts of dark chocolate (health benefits for the heart)
    – A very occasional pizza, cake, fried food, potatoes or rice. Once a month if that.
    – No soda or drinks, just water.
    – Limited amounts of low fat dairy.
    – I take Glucosamine/Chondroitin for my joint health and vitamin D because I work indoors.
    – 2 cups of coffee a day.
    – I run 10-12 miles a week and have competed in 4 5K races. Prior to that, I never ran more than a mile in my life.
    – I play ice hockey 2 nights a week.
    – I do family outings where we walk, hike, bike or ice skate once a week together.

    Go for it! You’ll be glad you did.

    • That’s great David! I will check out your health blog.

    • I use the Myfitnesspal app on the iPhone as well. It works great on keeping a count of what you are eating. I am about 5’8″ and weighed 215 last June. I have been using the myfitnesspal app since then and been exercising regularly. I’m currently doing the Couch to 5K thing. If you go to iTunes and search 5k101, Todd Lange will have you running a 5k in about 8 weeks. I’m on week six. I just ran two sets of 12 minute runs. Never done anything like that before. It feels really good. Oh yeah, I’m down to 186 right now, so that’s 30 pounds lost in a year.

    • Thanks, David. So glad to hear of your healthier choices following a heart attack. As someone who kept a health-oriented, self-improvement-by-50 blog several years ago – and gave it up because I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching, though I loved blogging – I’m looking forward to checking out your “nerd” health blog.

  9. Welcome to the club, Matt! My SIL started me losing weight with a game-style diet called Game On! There is very little calorie counting and a few simple rules:
    1. Eat five meals a day with a fist-sized portion of complex carbs (whole grains, legumes, dairy), a palm sized portion of lean meats or egg whites and a thumb sized portion of fats like nuts & seeds or a thumbprint sized portion of oil.
    2. Drink 3 L of water every day. Don’t drink juice, soft drinks of any kind and nothing with artificial sweetners. You can have coffe or tea or lemon water. The beef against juice is that it doesn’t have the fiber that fruit has to fill you up and is loaded with sugar, even it if is natural fruit sugar.
    3. Exercise 20 minutes a day. I hate to exercise. I didn’t have time for long, rigorous work outs. But I have time to walk/run or hop on my bicycle or do 20 minutes of yoga. Since starting three months ago, I have worked up my run/walk interval to 1 minute walk, two minute run. And I have now found time for 30 minutes of exercise.
    4. Sleep 7 hours each night.
    5. You get to eat 100 calories of anything you want each day, take one meal off for one day a week and take a day off of each of the four rules each week. For instance, you can take one day off of doing anything related to the diet or, if you decided to stay up late reading fabulous blogs, you can take that day off, then take another day of meals off or take a water day off. It’s almost like being given grace each week ;-).
    6. Play against someone or form teams and choose your prize. I haven’t won a competition, but I have lost twenty pounds in three months. The competition lasts 4 weeks. Oh, you get a small number of points for communication with your team and the competition. Trash talk is okay, but tempting/encouraging the other team members to cave in is not.

    Those are the basic rules. You get a certain amount of points for each goal, which is all or nothing. If you lose 1% of your body weight in a week, you get to take your weekly points and add 20%. The program also has you taking on a new, good habit and losing a bad habit and that clause is what tripped me up when I chose something beyond the diet plan. I’ve lost twenty pounds in three months. If you want more information, go to http://www.thegameondiet.com/. It has some exercise plans and a list of approved foods. There is a book to go with it which is mainly authored by the person who lost the weight with her personal trainer who came up with the plan adding in his two cents. She can be funny but she has quite the potty mouth.

    I have realized that I CAN live a full and complete life without a daily butter and mayo supplement, that I DO have time for exercise and that I DO have some self control, though God has had to help me to say “no” to cookies and ice cream stashed for my kids and husband, who does not feel the need to diet. I feel better and more alert than I have in a long time. I still don’t like to exercise, but I like how I feel when I am done and I am less grumpy toward the kids.

    Good luck on your health-related goals.

  10. Cheering you on, Matt. I’ve been on a number of diets over the years, have started and ended exercise programs (at least once, on the same day), have bought the books and the tapes and the DVDs and…well, I’m edging on 52 and am still overweight, although I’m primarily vegan-vegetarian now. It’s great that you’re doing this while you’re younger – when I was still in my 30’s, I could basically eat what I wanted as long as I walked several miles at a time three days a week. Those days are gone, brother. It’s true what they say about 40. For me it wasn’t just about weight this year, this attempt, but about reversing my Type II diabetes and the early signs of high blood pressure, both of which run in my family. And it’s a series of daily choices. Keep us posted on your progress so we can continue to support you. (And thanks for the laughs yet again.)

  11. Juicing is a great diet…I do more of a smoothie version of a slim fast diet that has worked great for me (I’ve lost over 70 lbs). I drink smoothies or Naked drinks during the day and a regular meal for dinner. drinking water is essential to maximized weight loss.

  12. I hate to exercise too. I’m finally doing it on a regular basis. What helped?

    1) I joined Curves. I realize this is for women only, and our particular Curves is exceptionally wonderful, but any sort of commitment helps. I have friends there now, and I am very motivated to go see them. Then it seems silly not to exercise once I’m there. Plus, the great conversation disguises the fact that I’m actually using muscles.

    2) I put my exercise clothes out the night before and put them on when I get up in the morning. I don’t even have to make a decision. And once I’m wearing my workout clothes, it seems easier to go ahead and work out.

    If you hate running, maybe that’s not the best choice for you. What do you LIKE doing? I took up birding partly because it makes me go for hikes. I used to swim and body surf a lot (pre-husband) cause there were cute guys at the beach. I prefer exercise that uses my brain–otherwise I just think about how tired and sweaty I’m getting.

  13. Tried it all…FAILED.

    Good news, though.

    My doctor recently told me that about a week after I’m dead, I should be at just the right weight.